AN American woman who faked a pregnancy and panicked as her supposed due date grew near attacked a pregnant mother and cut her full-term foetus from her womb, killing the mother and baby, according to court documents.
Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 33, faces one count each of first-degree intentional homicide while armed and first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child while armed in the death of Maritza Ramirez-Cruz and the boy she was set to deliver next week.
She faces mandatory life in prison if convicted.
Morales-Rodriguez made a brief court appearance yesterday (local time), standing silent as her bail was set at $US1 million ($1.0 million).
According to the criminal complaint, Morales-Rodriguez told detectives that her boyfriend wanted a son but she couldn’t get pregnant.
She told him she was pregnant anyway, but started to grow desperate as what would be her due date approached.
Morales-Rodriguez drove around on Wednesday searching for a pregnant woman, but found none, authorities said.
On Thursday she drove around a nonprofit organisation that provides Hispanics with health care and found Ramirez-Cruz.
The 23-year-old had moved from Puerto Rico to join her childhood sweetheart, Christian Mercado, said Mercado’s father, Carlos Mercado. They already had three children together, and Ramirez-Cruz was carrying their fourth.
Morales-Rodriguez told detectives she thought about telling her boyfriend the truth, but decided against it and offered Ramirez-Cruz a lift.
Telling Ramirez-Cruz she needed to change her shoes, she drove them to her house.
Ramirez-Cruz went inside to use the toilet. When she emerged, Morales-Rodriguez was waiting for her with a baseball bat.
The complaint said Morales-Rodriguez began to bludgeon her. Ramirez-Cruz fell to the ground. Morales-Rodriguez straddled the younger woman and choked her until she passed out, the complaint said.
She cut her open with the knife, the complaint said, telling detectives she was trying to imitate a procedure she had seen on the Discovery Channel.
When she pulled the foetus out, the baby wasn’t breathing, Morales-Rodriguez said. She then dragged Ramirez-Cruz’s body into the basement and hid it near the hot water heater, according to the complaint.
She smeared some of Ramirez-Cruz’s blood around her thighs to make people think she herself was bleeding from giving birth, the complaint said.
Then she called the emergency dispatcher and said she’d given birth to a stillborn.
She was taken to a hospital, but left before she was fully examined, the complaint said.
An autopsy the next day revealed that the baby wasn’t the product of a natural birth.
Police returned to Morales-Rodriguez’s house and took her back to the hospital. An examination verified she hadn’t given birth, and officers arrested her.
Morales-Rodriguez is due back in court on October 19 for a preliminary hearing.
Maria Garcia, 44, who lives next to Morales-Rodriguez and described her as her best friend, said said she was convinced Morales-Rodriguez was pregnant, saying she even rubbed her belly.
The last time Garcia saw her, on October 3, Morales-Rodriguez told her she was going to have a Caesarean section in two weeks. But she also seemed depressed, refusing to come out of her house to even join Garcia for a walk.