Saturday, December 18, 2004

Father and Child Reunion is Only an Incision Away

Zebulon Stinnett and his newly cut-out daughter were reunited after Zebulon's wife, Bobbi Jo, was murdered, her abdomen sliced open, and the baby removed, leaving Bobbi Jo dead in a pool of blood. If you think that last sentence was bizarre, you may not have seen the coverage of this event in the last few days. In what was undeniably an extremely fast, expert, and efficient example of police investigative work, the baby, since named Victoria Jo Stinnett, was found in the possession of 36-year-old Lisa Montgomery, who has admitted to strangling the biological mother, cutting open her womb and removing the fetus, and traveling back to her home in Kansas, where she passed off the baby as her own.

This crime is jaw-droppingly weird in and of itself, although apparently it is not nearly as uncommon as most people (myself included) might have thought. But what is even more extraordinary to me is the way the murdered woman's husband, and the other residents of the small Missouri town where he lives, have been responding to the infant being found, in the context of how she came into the world.

First, Stinnett called his daughter "a miracle" -- not an unusual or inappropriate way to think of and refer to your new baby, except that Stinnett has this "miracle" right now, at this time, because his wife of one year was strangled with a cord or wire, after which her murderer cut open her abdomen and her womb, removed the fetus, aka "the miracle," and left the fetus's mother looking "as though her stomach had exploded," according to the mother's own mother, who found her daughter's dead body.

In addition, a second New York Times article reported that as of Saturday -- two days after Bobbi Jo Stinnett was murdered -- "the local mortuary still had not heard from her relatives." One of the funeral home's employees attempted to explain this by telling reporters that Bobbi Jo's family was probably too busy with the baby to contact the funeral home where the baby's mother was lying in cold storage with the staff waiting for guidance as to funeral arrangements.

I'm as glad as the next person that Bobbi Jo Stinnett's murderer will not get to keep the fruits of her crime, but the thought has crossed my mind: Where is the MOTHER in all this? Where is the discussion about the woman who was MURDERED so her body could be cut open to get her fetus? I mean, was Bobbi Jo Stinnett no more than a convenience store that was robbed? Is this merely a case of stolen goods crossing state lines?


Anonymous said...

What a horrible thing to say! Not to mention that I don't think you have the facts. Our whole community has been horrified about this incident. No one more than the family involved. Did you think that since we are a very small community, that the autopsy that was required on the body had to be performed elsewhere? Did you think about the family who was 2 hours away in a hospital with their "miracle" and maybe wanted to make sure the life that did survive was surrounded by loved ones? And yes Victoria is a miracle. It's a miracle she's alive, it's a miracle she wasn't harmed, and it's a miracle she was found and given back to her family. So, tell me what is the right way to act when you find yet another member of your family murdered? Yes, this family has been through more than one tragedy like this in the last few years. Don't judge until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, seems to be awfully judgmental from a person who can't possibly know and should never have to experience such a horrific crime. Bobbi jo's husband was right when he said his daughter was a miracle... could you imagine what it would be like to know that your daughter was in the hands of the person who mutilated you wife.

Could you imagine the SHOCK this young new father/widower is in right now... I bet you can't!!! I think you are rude and very disrespectful to cast judgment on how a grief stricken and shock stricken family are handling this truly horrific nightmare

Kathy said...

Our whole community has been horrified about this incident.I had no idea my blog was so widely read that people in the town where Bobbi Jo Stinnett was murdered have actually read it. I'm flattered. If you are indeed someone from the town where Bobbi Jo Stinnett was murdered and cut open (which I am not at all sure you are, since you don't give a name, not even just a first name), then I certainly respect your point of view, as someone who knows the people involved in this crime.

Obviously we all have different ways of responding to an event as horrific as the murder and mutilation of a loved one. As I said in my blog post, I am as happy as the next person that the baby was found and is safe. I can understand why the family is glad to have the baby back. What I find unseemly and off-putting is calling the baby a "miracle" when she is here because her mother was murdered, her abdomen and womb cut open, and the fetus removed; AND, the father going all the way to Kansas to pick her up personally and stay with her there, when his murdered wife is lying in a morgue back home. I should think he would have WANTED to be with his baby's mother, acting in her behalf to take care of her funeral arrangements, since that was the final and only thing he could do for her. Somebody else could have gone and picked up the baby if it wasn't good enough to just have the baby returned by the police. I do find it extremely bizarre that all the family can seem to talk about is the baby; and that nothing has been said at all (at least as reported in the media) about the mother. The impression I get is that this family is happier about the baby than they are grieving about the mother. You know, if my husband was murdered, and I loved him deeply, I would not be able to think about anyone else for at least a few weeks after the murder, even if I had a newborn. ALL my thoughts would be about him. So maybe I just can't understand why a family would be spending all their time focusing on the baby and so little time thinking about the mother. If that shocks you, or you find it judgmental, I respect that, but so be it.

Kathy said...

Did you think that since we are a very small community, that the autopsy that was required on the body had to be performed elsewhere?Why did an autopsy have to be performed when the cause of death was known? An autopsy is done to determine if foul play was involved and/or to determine the cause of death. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the authorities were pretty certain foul play was involved. Bobbi Jo Stinnett did not die of natural causes.

Anonymous said...

You obviously are not a parent and are a calous and judgemental person. That father's place was with his child, there was nothing he could do to comfort his wife other than taking their baby in his arms and returning to her the security that was so viciously stolen from her. Any real mother would put her child first and would want her child back safe and secure with their family above all else. I am sure that Bobbie Jo's last thoughts were of the safety and well being of her little girl. The only positive that can be seen in this tragedy is that this child miraculously survived such a horrific birth and will bring peace and joy to that grieving family and community. My prayers are with you all.

Kathy said...

You obviously are not a parent and are a calous and judgemental personActually, I am a parent. And I know how to (and do) put my daughter first without ignoring the obligations of love that I owe my parents or my spouse. When my mother died, my daughter was 8 years old. She was grieving, too, and she needed comfort. I was able to give her that comfort while still making all the arrangements for my mother's funeral, attending her funeral, and functioning as the executor of her estate. I had no one else to help me (unlike Bobbi Jo Stinnett's husband, who as I understand it has an entire community to help him). Nevertheless, I made sure her final resting place was selected and that she was laid to rest as soon as possible, and that I was there, with my husband and daughter by my side, to witness my mother being laid to rest. It was precisely because there was nothing else I could do for her, and that this was the ONLY thing I could do for her now, that I wanted to do it, and did it.

Any real mother would put her child first and would want her child back safe and secure with their family above all else.Of course, and Bobbi Jo Stinnett's child WAS coming back safe and secure to her family. That was not in question once the baby was found and taken away from Lisa Montgomery and brought to a hospital and the family contacted. The security of that baby was not and is not, in my opinion, in conflict with the obligation a husband owes his beloved wife (or vice versa) to make sure her funeral arrangements are taken care of, for goodness sake. The only thing he could do for her anymore was to personally attend to the arrangements for the respectful and prompt treatment of her body after death.

Is Bobbi Jo Stinnett's family going to have a memorial service for her, at least? Is there going to be some acknowledgment, ANY acknowledgment, of her life and the terror, anguish, and suffering she experienced in her final moments of that life?

The only positive that can be seen in this tragedy is that this child miraculously survived such a horrific birth and will bring peace and joy to that grieving family and community.That I certainly agree with. I hope Zebulon Stinnett feels peaceful and joyous soon. If it were me, every time I looked at that baby I would think of the unspeakably horrifying reason for her being there, and it would take a very long time for me to feel any peace and joy.

My thoughts are with this community, too, and my thoughts are also with Bobbi Jo Stinnett's spirit, wherever it is now. May she find peace, and may she live forever in the memory of the people who loved her.