MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee woman abducted a young pregnant mother and removed her fetus just days before the baby was due, killing both of them, authorities said. The suspect was arrested after she tried to pass the baby off as her own.
Milwaukee police said the 33-year-old woman removed the full-term baby from Maritza Ramirez-Cruz' uterus "by force," but did not elaborate.
The suspect called 911 on Thursday saying she had given birth at home and that the baby wasn't breathing, police said. An autopsy and investigation led police back Friday to the suspect's home, where they found the 23-year-old mother's body in the basement. The woman was arrested but has not been charged.
Family members told WTMJ-TV (http://bit.ly/qtPhWO ) that Ramirez-Cruz was due to give birth Oct. 16 to her fourth child, a boy, whom she and her husband had already named Omar.
Ramirez-Cruz's husband, Christian Mercado, told the station that his wife had mild contractions Thursday morning and left the house around 9:15 a.m. to run an errand. Mercado went to work but asked her to call him if she wanted to go to the hospital.
Mercado said that around 11 a.m. he called his wife but got no answer. Family members searched for her and, more than a day after Mercado filed a police report, authorities called to say a body had been found that matched her description.
The case has been forwarded to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office for review, police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said there was no evidence that the two women knew each other and he said "fetal abduction" is extremely rare.
Similar cases of women taking an unborn child from a mother's womb were reported in Massachusetts and Oregon in 2009, in Pennsylvania in 2007, in Illinois in 2006 and Missouri in 2004.
In the Oregon case, a woman obsessed with having a baby pleaded guilty last year to the murder of a pregnant woman whose unborn child was cut from her abdomen after she was bludgeoned to death. Korena Roberts, 29, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In Massachusetts, a Worcester woman, Julie Corey, pleaded not guilty to killing her pregnant friend, Darlene Hayes, and cutting the baby from Hayes' womb. Corey and the baby were found in a homeless shelter in Plymouth, N.H., in July 2009, just days after Hayes was found dead with a fractured skull.