This post deals with murder and sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
On December 8, Lisa Montgomery will be put to death by lethal injection at the US penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. She will become only the 16th woman executed in the US since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Montgomery committed a terrible crime. In 2004, in Skidmore, Missouri, she strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett and cut her unborn baby from her womb. Amazingly, the baby survived. Montgomery claimed she’d given birth to the little girl and she and her husband Kevin began showing her to friends.
Montgomery was arrested the following day. She was found guilty of kidnapping and murder in 2007 and has been on death row ever since. Her lawyers have argued that executing her is a “profound injustice”, due to her mental illness and childhood trauma. But those arguments have not been successful, and a date for the execution has been set.
So what led Montgomery to do something so unspeakably brutal?
According to court documents, Montgomery’s father was an alcoholic and her mother was frequently drunk when pregnant with her. Her early life was “filled with turmoil”, with her half-sister Diane being adopted out to another family. Her parents split when she was three, and her mother, Judy Shaughnessy, got remarried, to Jack Kleiner. According to the documents, Montgomery’s new stepfather abused her physically and began sexually abusing her when she was about 14. When Montgomery was 16, her mother saw her stepfather raping her and the marriage ended.
Family members have claimed that Shaughnessy blamed Montgomery for the abuse and the divorce. Shaughnessy’s nephew, David Kidwell, testified that she believed Montgomery “had brought [the abuse] on herself, that she enticed him”.
In 1986, when Montgomery was 18, she married her stepbrother, Carl Boman. She had four children in four years before having a tubal ligation. Montgomery claims that her mother and husband forced her to be sterilised. However, Boman testified that Montgomery’s doctor had recommended the procedure because her fourth child had been born more than two months’ premature and he feared she couldn’t carry another baby to term.
In the remaining years of her marriage to Boman, Montgomery claimed several times that she was pregnant, even though it was impossible. She split with Boman and got married again, to Kevin Montgomery. The first time she told him she was pregnant, she asked for money for an abortion and he gave it to her. The second time, she told family and friends she was pregnant, as well as her husband. Later, she said the baby had died and she’d donated the body to science.