HARD NEWS SERIES 1: Woman murdered, unborn baby taken

Sheriff’s department investigating leads in Skidmore woman’s slaying, seeking information about fetus cut from her mother’s womb

Managing Editor
Maryville Daily Forum
Published December 17, 2004

SKIDMORE, MO - A 23-year-old pregnant woman was murdered here yesterday and the eight-month-old fetus she was carrying was removed from her body and taken.
Skidmore residents confirmed that a pregnant woman living at 410 W. Elm, where the murder allegedly occurred, was named Bobbie Jo Stinnett. Last night, Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey confirmed that the victim’s last name was Stinnett.
“We have a couple of leads were working on,” Espey said last night.
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But the Sheriff’s Department was having difficulty triggering an Amber Alert, since no description of the unborn baby was available.
“Although the Sheriff’s Department does not have enough information to initiate an Amber Alert, the department is seeking any information regarding the crime, the removal of the unborn child, and the current location of the child,” a department press release stated.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Stinnett home in Skidmore at 3:38 p.m. yesterday, after Stinnett’s mother found her unconscious on the floor of her home with a large wound to her abdomen.
“The mother entered the home of her daughter, and the mother was hysterical over what she saw,” Espey said.
Stinnett was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Maryville after an ambulance crew arrived at the scene. Paramedics tried to revive her, but Stinnett was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Sheriff’s Department immediately began a large-scale investigation into the crime, and last night issued a request for information about the missing baby.
“We’re going to take it at this moment that this child is still alive,” Espey said.
Several law enforcement agencies are involved, including crime scene investigation squads from the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department.
The Buchanan County CSI team was “going to come up and process the house,” Espey said. “Then they’re going to go up to St. Francis (Hospital) and process the body.
“We’re just doing a total investigation.”
Unconfirmed reports to the Forum indicated Stinnett was or had been employed at the Kawasaki assembly plant in Maryville.
Espey said Stinnett was married, and her husband was working at the time of the murder.
“The husband is not a suspect,” Espey said.
He did confirm that the department was looking into a vehicle which may be related to the case, although Espey emphasized the owner or driver of the vehicle is not necessarily a suspect.
Neighbors in a four-block radius from the victim’s home were interviewed, and more area residents may be interviewed today when more law enforcement officers are available.
Espey said no obvious suspects were suggested by family members.
“The family doesn’t know of anybody,” Espey said. “This girl was a good friend to a lot of people. She didn’t have any enemies.”
Details are still unavailable about how and why the murder was committed. Espey would not comment on whether a knife or other murder weapon was found at the scene, and no information was available from St. Francis Hospital last night about the cause of death. However, the Forum received unconfirmed reports that Stinnett was strangled.
Espey did say there were no signs that the baby was taken in any kind of cult ritual.
“We don’t have reports of any cults in Nodaway County,” Espey said.