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The murder of pregnant women represents a relatively recently studied class of murder. Limited statistics are available as there is no reliable system in place yet to track such cases.[1] Whether pregnancy is a causal factor is hard to determine.


The top risk of death for pregnant women is complications during childbearing, followed by traffic accidents. The third leading cause is homicide. About 20 percent of women who die during pregnancy are victims of murder.[2]

Isabelle Horon and Diana Cheng published a Maryland study in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found "a pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause": [1]

[T]he killings span racial and ethnic groups. In cases whose details were known, 67 percent of women were killed with firearms. Many women were slain at home — in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens — usually by men they knew. Husbands. Boyfriends. Lovers.[1]

The suggestion that this is the primary cause of prenatal maternal death, however, suffers a lack of fully reliable data. Homicide was the second-leading cause of death among women ages 20 to 24 and fifth among women ages 25-34 in 1999. The top cause of death in both age groups is accidents.[3]

In 2003, California changed its death certificate documentation to include a female victim's maternity status.[1]


Statistics for pregnancy being a motivating factor in the murder of a pregnant woman are unavailable at this time. Motives may vary, with a woman's pregnancy at the time of death being coincidental. In November 2010, a man in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, murdered his pregnant girlfriend after a dispute about the unborn child's last name, then killed her sister and himself.[4]

A common motive directly linked to the victim's pregnancy is to steal her unborn baby. In 2004, Bobbie Jo Stinnett died after Lisa M. Montgomery cut Stinnett's unborn daughter from her womb in an attempt to claim the baby as her own.[5] The two met online in dog breeding chatroom and Mongomery told Stinnett she was also pregnant. Montgomery later posed as a potential buyer of one of Stinnett's dogs and arranged to meet her. It was at that meeting that Stinnett was murdered. Montgomery then took the baby to the local hospital, claiming to have just given birth to it herself.[6] In July 2008, Araceli Camacho Gomez was found with her hands and feet bound by yarn and massive trauma to her abdomen. Police arrested Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong in connection with the case and charged her with first-degree murder. In her purse were yarn, a boxcutter, and baby items, among other items.[7] In July 2009, Darlene Haynes was found dead in her apartment; her stomach cut open in a way consistent with the removal of a fetus.[8]

Other notable cases include Sharon Tate, victim of the Manson Family murders, Jessie Davis, LaToyia Figueroa, Belinda Temple, Cherica Adams, and Laci Peterson.

See also


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