DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado woman admitted that she cut an unborn child out of the womb of a stranger, and her husband told police he heard the fetus emit a “gasping breath” before it died, court documents showed on Friday.
Dynel Catrece Lane, 34, is being held on a $2 million bond on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, assault and child abuse resulting in death in the attack on Michelle Wilkins, who was seven months pregnant.
The victim placed a 911 emergency call on Wednesday from a home in Longmont, 30 miles (56 km) north of Denver, to report being “cut” by a woman after she went there hoping to buy baby clothes she saw advertised on Craigslist, police said.
At the home, officers found the 26-year-old Wilkins beaten, suffering from abdominal stab wounds, and slipping in and out of consciousness. She told them her attacker had “removed” her baby.
Wilkins is in critical but stable condition after surgery at a local hospital, her family said in a statement.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lane’s husband, David Ridley, believed his wife was pregnant.
He returned home on Wednesday, not long after the attack took place and while Wilkins was still bleeding in the basement of his and Lane’s split-level home.
Upstairs, he found his wife covered in blood, and when he asked her what happened, Lane told him she had miscarried her baby. Ridley said he found the fetus in the couple’s bathtub.
“He rubbed the baby slightly then rolled it over to hear and see it taking a gasping breath,” the affidavit said.
Ridley then drove his wife and the fetus to a hospital, where Lane ultimately admitted she had cut Wilkins and removed the baby, it said. Wilkins, meanwhile, called 911 from the home.
A physician who examined the victim said the incision was “well performed,” and that it had been done by someone who had researched Cesarean births, the affidavit said, adding that the fetus would have been viable.
An autopsy was conducted on Friday on the fetus, which Boulder County Coroner Emma Hall described in a statement as a “34-week gestation female.” Hall said the cause and manner of death is still being investigated.
Both prosecutors and Lane’s public defender have said the autopsy findings will be key to what she might face when she is formally charged, which prosecutors expect to happen next week.
Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler