AP Araceli Camacho Gomez Associated Press Beyond 90 Seconds crimes against children fetus Kennewick law enforcement murder News Pasco Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong police television Tri-Cities true crime video Washington

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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7 virgins churches cults KOB law enforcement Michael Travesser New Mexico News religeon Strong City true crime Union County virgin virgins Wayne Bent

New Mexico church leader now fasting

(*note: the headline to this story originally used the words “hunger strike” instead of “fasting”. The former headline had been written minutes after Wayne Bent published his post. I had not read Bent’s entire post. While some may debate “hunger strike” vs. “fasting,” I feel fairness calls for the word “fasting” in this story’s headline. I apologize for any confusion. -Mark Horner)

Strong City leader Wayne Bent says he is now fasting and will continue to do so until a girl taken by the state from his church’s property is returned to her parents.

Here is an excerpt from Wayne Bent’s post published on his Web site around 4:15pm today:

Today, I began a fast, as I did when I was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. I will now abstain from eating until the child Willow is returned with no strings attached, or until God brings the deliverance that I seek from the present evil, or the answer to my inquiry of justice is clearly manifested, or I am gone from this life altogether.

On May 20th, 2008, a New Mexico grand jury indicted Bent on four crimes: Two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree, unclothed. And two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

New Mexico State Police arrested Bent May 6th.

After an ambulance responded to the Union County jail, Bent was released from custody May 9th. His son, Jeff Bent, posted the $55,000 bond.

Bent’s story has been featured on several American television programs, including Larry King Live and FOX News. But the story first found an audience in a British documentary last December. A re-edited version of that documentary appeared on the National Geographic Channel earlier this year.

In an e-mail received at 4:17pm today, Jeff Bent tells

The court declined an emergency hearing today regarding the conditions Willow is having to endure at the hands of CYFD. The initial ten day hearing was never completed and we are going on six weeks now since she was taken. The new post gives all the details.

You can read the remainder of Wayne Bent’s pledge to fast here.


UPDATE: Here is the story as it appeared on in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 7, 2008.

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