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Expert: Fetal abduction is rare, but tolerates more than 30 years

DETROIT – The gruesome act is rare, but it is often enough to have a name: fetal abduction.

The last case of Chicago — in the 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was strangled and her baby cut from her womb — has agreements with many of the approximately 30 similar crimes carried out over the last three decades in the U.S., an expert said.

Of the approximately 30 documented fetal abduction cases between 1987 and 2015, most of the mothers were killed, and it is typical for them to have been stalked or lured somewhere under false pretenses — including free delivers, according to Kenna Quinet, an associate criminal justice professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. In Ochoa-Lopez case, the police and the family members say that she was killed after responding to a Facebook offer of free baby clothes. Her son is in the hospital in grave condition and not expected to survive.

Quinet, who is co-author of the murder book “The will to Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder,” said the is as illogical as it is terrible: She is not aware of any case of “murder by C-section,” as she describes, in which the baby was not to be found, and the crime was not discovered.

“It is clear, you will not get away with this,” she said. “These women are clearly delusional.”

Three people were in custody Thursday in the attack on Ochoa-Lopez, including a woman who told a 911 dispatcher that she had just given birth to a baby who needed help, police said. The authorities have a motive for the crime.

Quinet said, it is often a case of a perpetrator the making of “a very dysfunctional, controlling, psychotic attempt to a man in a relationship”, or they suffer from what Quinet calls “the motherhood by proxy.” That is also the name of a chapter from her book and a game on Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a form of abuse where the person is supposed to care for the individual makes or causes the condition.

The cases come at an average of one time per year, with some gaps. It’s even happened in Chicago, in 1995. That almost full-term baby survived, but the mother of Debra Evans and two of her other children were killed. Three people were convicted.

Quinet, the research shows that most babies survive, but a lot less of their mothers. They found the eight women who did, including the one that escaped and killed the woman tries to kill her and the baby.

Quinet, she said that they can’t find a definitive case before 1987. She said that which correlates to a time in which hospitals boosted their security, which significantly reduce the number of babies are stolen from maternity or neo-natal units.

During the fetal kidnapping endures, she said it is important to note that it remains rare and shows no sign of increasing.

“If you consider a extremely rare event of the millions of women per year who are pregnant, there would be no way individual people that we could take this risk to zero,” she said. “I think it’s as low as we can hope to be.”

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