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Pregnant Woman Thwarts Possible Theft of Fetus

Police in Fla. Say Unrelated Story Of Baby Found on Road Was Hoax

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 12, 2005; Page A03

It was a day of strange misfortunes and felicitous endings yesterday as police in Kentucky announced that a woman who is nine months pregnant killed an attacker who may have intended to steal her unborn child and Florida authorities disclosed that the widely reported case of a newborn being tossed from a moving car was a hoax.

The announcements -- spaced 1,100 miles and only a few hours apart -- came two months after the headline-grabbing survival tale of an infant who was sliced from her slain mother's womb in Missouri.

Pokriots said the baby was thrown from a car and she saved him.

The Kentucky assault took place in Fort Mitchell, a suburban town of 8,000 southwest of Cincinnati. Police say the pregnant woman, Sarah Brady, 26, acted in self-defense Thursday when she wrested a knife from her attacker, Katherine Smith, 22, and stabbed the woman in the chest and shoulder. Smith, police said, had lied to neighbors for weeks about being pregnant and had prepared a nursery in her home, complete with a new crib, a changing table and diapers.

"That certainly is bizarre for someone who is not pregnant," Fort Mitchell Police Chief Steve Hensley said.

The women met for the first time a week ago, Hensley said, when Smith invited Brady to her home to collect what she said were incorrectly delivered baby gifts from a store where they had both registered. Smith was using a phony name similar to Brady's, Hensley said, registering as Sarah Brody. Smith used the same ploy to lure Brady to her home again Thursday, police said, and then tried to kill Brady when the pregnant woman became uncomfortable and tried to leave.

Brady suffered cuts, but her unborn child appears to be healthy, and doctors believe she will give birth soon. No charges will be filed, Hensley said.

Brady's near miss follows a small series of attacks with tragic consequences for pregnant women in the past few years. In December, police and prosecutors in Missouri say, Lisa Montgomery, 36, strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, and sliced her unborn child from her belly. Montgomery was later arrested after returning to her home to show the baby girl to her husband, who said he had believed she was pregnant. A year earlier, Oklahoma police said a 21-year-old was shot to death by a woman who removed her 6-month-old fetus. The infant later died. In 2000, an Ohio woman committed suicide after allegedly shooting to death a 23-year-old expectant mother, performing a Caesarean section and masquerading for five days as the unharmed child's mother. The child was returned to his father.

The ultimate home of a Florida newborn, whose tiny face and clutching hands flickered across television sets nationwide Friday, has yet to be determined. The baby, named Johnny after the doctor who treated him, was the subject of a day-long hoax with an irresistible story line: The infant, as the story was first reported, had miraculously survived being thrown from a moving car in Fort Lauderdale.

Calls, e-mails and letters flooded into the Broward County Sheriff's Office offering to adopt baby Johnny as the tale spread of a good Samaritan scooping up a 1-day-old with his umbilical cord still attached from a roadside. But by afternoon, Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne said the feel-good story was a lie. The 38-year-old mother, a mentally disturbed woman named Patricia Pokriots, had concocted the story and claimed to be the good Samaritan after giving birth to the unwanted child in her mother's bathroom.

"It's not as horrible," Jenne said, "as we once thought."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company