By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin police charged a 33-year-old Milwaukee woman with murder on Monday over accusations she cut a full-term fetus from its mother's womb in an attempt to steal the baby and claim it as her own.
Annette Morales-Rodriguez faces two counts of first-degree homicide in district court, accused of using an Exacto knife to cut the fetus from a 23-year-old woman's abdomen on Thursday. Neither the mother nor the baby, a boy, survived.
Morales-Rodriguez told detectives her boyfriend wanted a baby boy but she was unable to get pregnant, then feigned a pregnancy and panicked when it was time to have the baby, authorities said.
She drove around her neighborhood, locating the victim outside a public agency frequented by pregnant women, and offered her a ride to a local drug store, according to the complaint.
Morales-Rodriguez then told the pregnant woman she needed to stop at home to change her shoes. While the victim was inside using the bathroom, Morales-Rodriguez struck her in the head several times with a baseball bat, the complaint said.
Court documents said she then strangled her and taped her mouth, hands and feet with duct tape before trying to cut out the fetus.
"She cut at the bikini line attempting to duplicate the process she had seen on the Discovery Channel, depicting a caesarean section birth," the district attorney wrote in the complaint.
Morales-Rodriguez then called the paramedics to report that she had just given stillbirth to a child in the shower, the complaint said.
"She said that she had just given birth and the baby was not breathing," Police Chief Ed Flynn said during a news conference over the weekend.
The baby was pronounced dead at the scene and Morales-Rodriguez was taken to the hospital by paramedics.
Police later learned that the woman was not the mother of the child. Investigators returned to Morales-Rodriguez' home where they discovered the mother's body in the basement by the hot water heater.
Morales-Rodriguez, who was being held on $1 million bond, faces life in prison if convicted.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)