Woman Allegedly Murdered Expecting Mother to Steal Baby

Annette Morales-Rodriguez of Milwaukee, Wisc., allegedly used techniques she learned from the Discovery Channel to perform a Cesarean section on a woman she'd abducted and murdered, in the hopes she could pass the woman's child off as her own.

Morales-Rodriguez (pictured) told police that she'd lied to her boyfriend about being pregnant for months, and began to panic as her supposed due date neared. A few weeks ago, she hatched a plan to "find a pregnant woman, take the baby and make it hers"; on Thursday, near a nonprofit health-care organization she found 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz, who was pregnant with her fourth child with her "childhood sweetheart" Christian Mercado. Morales-Rodriguez offered Ramirez-Cruz a ride:

Telling Ramirez-Cruz she needed to change her shoes, she drove them to her house. Ramirez-Cruz went inside to use the bathroom. When she emerged, Morales-Rodriguez was waiting for her with a baseball bat.

The complaint said Morales-Rodriguez began to hit Ramirez-Cruz and choked her until she passed out. Morales-Rodriguez then taped Ramirez-Cruz's feet and hands and taped over her mouth and nose. She cut her open with a knife, the complaint said. She told detectives she was trying to imitate a procedure she had seen on the Discovery Channel.

When she pulled the fetus out, the baby wasn't breathing, Morales-Rodriguez said. She smeared some of Ramirez-Cruz's blood around her thighs to make people think she herself was bleeding from giving birth. Then she called emergency services and said she'd given birth to a stillborn. She was taken to a hospital but left before she was fully examined, the complaint said.

When the medical examiner determined that the infant hadn't been born naturally, police brought Morales-Rodriguez in for questioning. When further testing revealed that she hadn't given birth, she was arrested and charged with first-degree homicide.

This is the second time a pregnant woman has been murdered and her child taken this year; in April, Kathy Michelle Coy allegedly killed Jamie Stice, a woman she'd befriended on Facebook, and performed an amateur C-section.

[AP, image of Ramirez-Cruz family members via AP]