A baby cut from a mother’s body…again

(July 2) There is much yet to be learned about a recent murder in the Tri-Cities of south central Washington.  But some people have already heard enough.

The details are that gruesome.

Kennewick police say a 23-year-old woman named Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong murdered a pregnant Pasco woman…and also removed a nearly full-term baby boy from the the victim’s body.

As of this early morning hour (July 2, 2:50am, PST), the Tri-City Herald is reporting that the baby remains in critical condition.

27-year-old Araceli Camacho Gomez was found dead around 1am Saturday at a Kennewick park.  Investigators believe she had been murdered Friday night.

“The autopsy indicated additional cuts in the area of the uterus consistent with the cutting of the body to remove the child,” police spokesperson Mike Blatman told the Associated Press.

The AP story also mentions evidence:

According to documents filed in court, blue mechanic’s gloves soaked in blood, a boxcutter, bloody paper towels, yarn, a mucus bulb, baby bottle and baby socks were found in her purse. The court filings did not indicate whether the boxcutter was used to cut or stab Gomez.

A local television station, KEPR (CBS), has managed to interview family members on both sides of this story.  The TV station has also interviewed the victim’s fiancé.  Videos of KEPR’s coverage can be found here.

As this story continues to heat-up in the glow of the national media, stories about the murder will be all over the Web.  This post takes a different turn.  And aims to end on an uplifting note.

First, a bit more about the type of grisly crime allegedly committed by Synhavong.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard similar stories before; including the strangulation of a 23-year-old Missouri woman named Bobbie Joe Stinnett nearly four years ago. Lisa Montgomery confessed to that murder and also to having removed a fetus from Stinnett’s body.

Less than two years ago, an Illinois case turned out to be even more horrific (hard to imagine, I know).  24-year-old Tiffany Hall didn’t stop at removing a fetus, she also drowned her victim’s three children.

I’ve been searching the Internet for additional examples of this type of crime and have just come across a truTV article titled, Fetal Snatchers.  The article is extensive and includes sections concerning the Montgomery and Hall cases. The bibliography also provides a rich source of related reading material.

However, the first thought that came to my mind after hearing about the Kennewick case Tuesday concerned a story that ultimately unfolded in the Manzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico two decades ago.

In 1987, Darci Pierce abducted a young mother from an Albuquerque parking lot. Pierce used the victim’s car key to perform a Caesarean section on the dying body of 23-year-old Cindy Ray.

Just three years ago, USA Today had this to say about the Pierce/Ray case:

It was the first recorded case of what a July 2002 study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences would call “newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section.” Ann Burgess, a professor of nursing at Boston College and the study’s lead author, says the women behind such attacks have a “childbearing fantasy” but are “cold, calculating and extremely self-centered.”

I worked in Albuquerque as a TV reporter for ten years.  The Pierce case was old news by the time I had moved to New Mexico in 1995.  But it was one of those cases that people spoke of from time-to-time.  A case that most people could never forget.

Then, in 1997, New Mexicans would actually hear and see the child who’d been carved out of Cindy Ray’s womb a decade earlier.  Anchor Tom Joles and then-Chief Photographer Carrie Moots of KOB-TV visited the child (by then, age 10) and her father.

11 years have now passed since KOB-TV first aired that story, but it is still very much worth watching (please view below).  It’ll also deliver an uplifting end to this post, as promised above.

(Please allow a few seconds for the video to load)

additional reading: New York Daily News list of similar cases

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