Lisa Montgomery To Be Executed, First Woman To Be Put To Death In US Since 1953

The house where Lisa Montgomery murdered a woman
Larry W. Smith / Getty Images

Lisa Montgomery, who murdered a Missouri woman in 2004, is set to be executed later this year, marking the first time a woman has been put to death in the U.S. since 1953.

As NBC News reported, on Friday, the Justice Department announced that Montgomery will be put to death on December 8 for the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Skidmore, Missouri, 16 years ago. It will mark the first federal execution of a female since 1953, when both Ethel Rosenberg and Bonnie Heady were both executed for separate crimes.

Rosenberg died in the electric chair for spying, while Heady died in the gas chamber for her role in the kidnapping and murder of a young boy.

Prior to 1953, a woman hadn’t been put to death in the U.S. since 1864.

The Crime

On December 16, 2004, Montgomery met up with Stinnett at her home in the Northwest Missouri town; authorities would later say there was no sign of forced entry. The two women had made contact earlier in a chat room for dog owners, and then later began talking about pregnancy.

Montgomery, who had a history of falsely telling others that she was pregnant despite having had a tubal ligation a decade earlier, went into the home, strangled the victim from behind, then cut the fetus, who had been gestating for eight months, from her abdomen.

Stinnett was discovered by her mother about an hour later in a pool of blood, as The Washington Post reported. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. The following day, Montgomery and the baby were both found at her Kansas farmhouse. The infant had survived and was placed into the custody of her father.

Death Sentence

Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2007.

Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said that Montgomery should be allowed to live because she is mentally ill and suffered childhood abuse.

“Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison. But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice,” Henry said.

Ramping Up Federal Executions

In July of this year, the Trump administration ended an informal 17-year hiatus in federal executions following concerns about the humaneness of the three-drug cocktail used to put prisoners to death by lethal injection. Since overturning the unofficial ban, the Justice Department has put seven men to death.

Brandon Bernard is also scheduled to be put to death later this year. Bernard, with his accomplices, murdered two youth ministers in 1999. His December 10 execution will be the ninth of 2020.