US Government Executes Lisa Montgomery – First Female Federal Prisoner Put to Death Since 1953

Kansas woman becomes the first executed female federal prisoner since 1953. 

  • WARNING: The article contains a graphic description of a murder that some readers may find distressing!
  • Lisa Montgomery, 52, was federally executed for killing a pregnant woman and stealing her newborn.
  • The inmate is the first female federal prisoner to be put to death since 1953. 
  • Despite appeals claiming that Montgomery was mentally ill, the Supreme Court allowed her death penalty since President Trump resumed federal executions in July. 
  • President-elect Joe Biden is expected to terminate federal executions after his inauguration next week. 

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was put to death on Wednesday. She was found guilty of strangling an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb. As Time reports, this is the first time in decades a female inmate is being executed under the authority of the US government.

AP/Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery

Montgomery was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. She had received a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. When asked if she had any last words to say, the prisoner responded: “No,” and said nothing else.

The inmate’s attorney, Kelley Henry, said in a statement:

“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight. Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame. The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman. Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

The Kansas woman was the 11th prisoner to receive lethal injection in the Indiana jail since President Donald Trump resumed federal executions in July 2020. 

Montgomery’s death sentence was approved by the Supreme Court following a series of legal altercations. Two other prisoners were scheduled to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

A federal judge for the District of Columbia halted the scheduled death penalties of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs. Johnson was found guilty of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia. Higgs was convicted of ordering the murders of three Maryland women.

The 52-year-old became the first legally executed female in decades after killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in Skidmore, Missouri. Montgomery murdered the young mother, who was eight months pregnant, in 2004. She strangled her victim with a rope and cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Afterward, the Kansas woman took the child in an attempt to pass it off as her own.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett | Credits: The Kansas City Star

Despite appeals claiming Montgomery was mentally ill and couldn’t comprehend her death sentence, the court allowed the execution.

During her time in a federal Texas prison, the inmate has done many activities helping her develop “coping mechanisms,” including needle-point, making gloves, hats, and other knitted items. However, since her glasses were taken away out of concern she might use them to commit suicide, she wasn’t able to practice her hobbies. Her attorney explained:

“All of her coping mechanisms were taken away from her when they locked her down.”

Furthermore, lawyer Kelley Henry revealed that Montgomery had suffered sexual abuse as a child. The legal team claimed that these traumatic experiences scarred her emotionally and triggered severe mental health issues.

Lisa Montgomery | Credits: The Kansas City Star

Despite the claims, according to prosecutors, the convict was faking having a mental illness. They have argued that she had performed precise planning, including a detailed online search on how to perform a C-section before killing Stinnett.

The stated mental health issues Montgomery was allegedly suffering from include depression, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was also struggling with pseudocyesis, or false pregnancy – a rare condition in which a woman wrongly believes she is expecting a child. Additionally, she was experiencing delusions and hallucinations.

The dreadful details of Stinnett’s murder left jurors in tears during the trial. 

  • In 2004, Lisa Montgomery drove nearly 170mi (274km) from her Melvern, Kansas, home to the Skidmore, Missouri.
  • Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, who was eight months pregnant, believed the Kansas woman was only visiting to adopt a rat terrier puppy from her.
  • Montgomery strangled the young mother with a rope, performed a crude cesarean, cut the baby from her womb, and fled with the newborn.
  • After killing Stinnett and stealing her child, Montgomery called her husband to pick her up from Topeka, Kansas. She reportedly told him she had delivered the baby earlier in the day at a nearby birthing center.
  • She was arrested the following day.
  • The child, Victoria Jo, is now 16. She hasn’t yet spoken publicly about the tragedy.

According to prosecutors, the motive for the 23-year-old mother’s murder was related to her sterilization issues. It was revealed that her ex-husband was aware she had undergone a tubal ligation that made her sterile. He had planned to prove she was lying about being pregnant to gain custody of two of their four children. To avoid being exposed, Montgomery decided to steal the newborn of Stinnett, whom she had met at dog shows.

On December 18, 1953, Bonnie Brown Heady was put to death for kidnapping and killing a 6-year-old boy in Missouri. Lisa Montgomery is now the first woman to receive the death penalty by federal government since Heady’s execution, nearly seven decades later.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to discontinue federal executions after his inauguration on January 20, 2021.

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