The terrifying story of Lisa Montgomery, America’s first woman executed in 70 years

A gruesome crime brought this woman to death row, which she finally crossed on January 13, 2021. While some encouraged her execution, others pleaded for clemency for the life she led, and which would explain his gesture.

It has been almost 70 years since the last federal executions of women took place. More precisely in 1953. Many years, therefore, which have seen the power of the death penalty diminish in the United States, decade after decade. A very different situation in recent years since the rate of executions has increased considerably under the presidency of Donald Trump. One of the last acts of his mandate had taken place at Terre Haute penitentiary, in Indiana, with the killing of Lisa Montgomery, a 52-year-old American, whose crime frightens as much as her own story. .

Virtual fake friendship

First, you have to retrace the horror before you scratch its surface. In 2004, Lisa Montgomery, at the height of her 36 years, can no longer have children. One day, she decides to join a forum called “Ratter Chatter”, dedicated to fans of Scottish terriers, under the pseudonym of “Darlene Fisher”. There, she spots Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old newly married and eight months pregnant, who breeds dogs. The two discuss rain and shine for several weeks, getting to know each other, Lisa Montgomery even pretending to expect a happy event as well. After declaring that she wishes to adopt a puppy, the latter travels 280 kilometers between Melvern (Kansas) and Skidmore (Missouri) to the home of her interlocutor.

When she opens the door to her house, the one who claims to be called Darlene Fisher strangles her host with a rope, opens the uterus and grabs the baby (who survived) before abandoning the young mother, bathed in his blood. The investigators quickly guessed that the identity of the criminal on the forum was false and finally found her thanks to her IP address. Her location in their hands, they go to her house and discover her with the baby in her arms, which she claims to have given birth to the day before. The story does not hold water, she admits, and the child is returned to his father.

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The house of hell

Three years later, in 2007, Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death. Its defenders are trying to turn this sentence into life imprisonment. Argument: mental disorders caused by gang rape and violence she suffered during childhood.

It must be said that the life course of this inmate is as appalling as the crime she committed. His half-sister, Diane Mattingly, spoke about it to BBC News. The two women lived together for a few years in very specific conditions. “It was a terrifying home where physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of Judy Shaughnessy, Lisa’s mother, and her boyfriends was rife,” she recalls.

The two children were beaten and suffered cruel punishments such as having their mouth taped or, like Diane Mattingly, pushed naked in the snow. The children’s biological father had left the home and this half-sister was then taken to foster care. As for Lisa Montgomery, she was still at the mercy of her mother. “Judy was manipulative and – I hate to use that word, but – mean. She liked to torture people around her. She drew joy from it, ”says the one who was able to escape from the house of hell.

Because, between these four walls, Lisa Montgomery found herself facing the new husband of the one who gave her life, a violent alcoholic who sexually abused her. According to relatives, the man built a shed where he and his friends raped and beat her. His mother even allowed plumbers or electricians to take advantage of it in exchange for work at home. She could have been helped, however, because some people around her knew about it but never reacted, regretfully today.

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Unhealthy fascination

At 18, the young woman married her half-brother with whom she had four children in five years. A family to rebuild your life? Not really. As if the violence was chasing her, her husband would rape and beat her. Gradually, she closed in on herself, developing mental disorders now identified: bipolar, complex post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

She divorces and marries a certain Kevin Montgomery. At the time, she said she was pregnant again after undergoing sterilization after her fourth child. For Lisa’s lawyers, Lisa feared her ex-husband would reveal his lies about her pregnancy and use them against her as she sought custody of their children. A real fantasy was then created: she wanted to give life again. And she ended up taking it back.

Deemed unforgivable

Lisa Montgomery and her half-sister did not see each other again until 34 years later, in the courtroom about to sentence the accused to death. “A sister was taken and placed in a loving home, she was brought up and had time to heal. The other stayed in that situation, and it got worse and worse. And in the end, she was broken, ”says Diane Mattingly.

Lawyers for the culprit petitioned Donald Trump, believing that the latter had lived a life of torture and was too mentally ill to be executed. But at Skidmore, the scene of the crime, the facts are far too serious to be forgotten. The body of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, found by his mother, has literally traumatized the police. “I wish I could go back in time and bring the people who defend Lisa Montgomery into this room. And then say, “Look at that body. Stand there and listen to her mother’s 911 call.” County Sheriff Randy Strong told BBC News.

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On January 11, 2020, a federal judge ordered a stay of execution to examine his mental state. But an appeal court seized by the Ministry of Justice overturned this decision the next day, and the Supreme Court validated this revocation. A somewhat tormented procedure which clearly reflects the difficulty of judging such a personality. The debate settles: it is about a real murderer, certainly, but in the incapacity to realize the extent of its acts. Lisa Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry, said: “Bloodlust for a failed administration was fully exposed tonight […] Our Constitution prohibits the execution of a person who is not able to understand him rationally. The current administration knows it. And she still killed Lisa Montgomery. “

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