Fetus cut from womb in Colorado did not survive attack: coroner

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2015 3:33 PM

By Keith Coffman

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) - A Colorado woman who police say admitted cutting a fetus from a stranger was due to be charged in court on Friday, and the coroner said an autopsy showed no evidence the unborn child survived after being taken from the victim's womb.

A spokeswoman for the Boulder County district attorney said Dynel Catrece Lane, 34, will not be charged with murder in last week's attack on Michelle Wilkins, 26, who said she was lured to Lane's home by an online ad for baby clothes.

Wilkins, who was seven-months pregnant, survived, but Boulder County Coroner Emma Hall said neither an autopsy nor the investigation found the fetus had shown any signs of life outside the womb, and therefore it is not considered a live birth.

"No evidence of trauma or injuries were found on the body," Hall said in a statement.

Lane is being held on a $2 million bond on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, assault and child abuse resulting in death. She is due to face formal charges at a court appearance later on Friday.

Police in Longmont, 30 miles (56 km) north of Denver, said officers responding to a 911 emergency call from Wilkins on the afternoon of March 18 found her stabbed and beaten in the basement of the home Lane shared with her husband.

Slipping in and out of consciousness, the victim told them her attacker had "removed" her baby.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lane's husband, David Ridley, believed his wife was pregnant. He found his wife covered in blood upstairs, and when he asked her what happened, Lane told him she had miscarried her baby. Ridley told police he found the fetus in the couple's bathtub.

He then drove his wife and the fetus to a hospital, where Lane ultimately admitted cutting Wilkins and removing the baby, the affidavit said.

In a statement, the victim's family said she had suffered a brutal attack in which she was beaten, cut, and strangled before her unborn daughter was taken out with "an ordinary kitchen knife" and she was left for dead.

"We cannot begin to fathom the depths of depravity and evil which drove her attacker, and trust that between law enforcement and our legal system; they will make sure justice is carried out," her relatives said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)