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Baby-snatching bid alleged in Indiana

Stephanie Foster faked a pregnancy, police say. Stephanie Foster faked a pregnancy, police say.
By Associated Press
June 25, 2010

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Stephanie Foster wanted a baby so badly that when she suffered another miscarriage last fall, she didn’t tell her husband.

Instead, police say, Foster, 34, spent months stuffing a pillow inside her clothes to feign pregnancy, forging birth certificates, and attending baby showers as she plotted to kidnap a newborn to pass off as her own.

“She didn’t want to tell her husband because he was so elated that they finally were going to have a child,’’ Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel said.

Police say Foster’s elaborate hoax ended violently Wednesday when she stabbed a couple at their home as their month-old baby slept in the living room. Now, the baby is staying with relatives while his parents recover, and Foster sits in a county jail cell awaiting formal charges.

Foster, who does not yet have an attorney, appeared by video yesterday in Vigo Superior Court, where Judge Michael J. Lewis ordered her held without bond. She said little during the hearing as investigators described a woman who spent months planning how to make her fake pregnancy look real.

Marvel said Foster strapped a pillow to her belly for months to mimic the weight gains of a pregnancy, adding stuffing each month so she appeared to grow larger.

Detective John Childs testified that Foster told police she had forged birth certificates while taking classes at Ivy Tech Community College so she could use them once she had a baby.

As her original delivery date approached, Marvel said, Foster began scouring birth announcements for newborns and targeted Ashley and Michael Speer, whose son was born about a month ago.

Marvel said Foster told police she stopped at the Speers’ home Wednesday “with no intent to hurt the couple at all’’ and asked to use their phone. Ashley Speer let her in; the baby was sleeping in the living room, and her husband, who works nights, was asleep in a bedroom.

Foster dialed a random number, hung up and left briefly before returning with what Childs described as a BB gun from her car. Investigators said Foster pulled out a knife and began stabbing her as the new mother pleaded for Foster not to hurt her or the baby. Michael Speer heard the attack and was stabbed while subduing Foster, police said.

During yesterday’s hearing, Foster expressed concern for Ashley Speer, who was hospitalized in Indianapolis with stab wounds to her arms and back.

A Wishard Memorial Hospital spokeswoman said yesterday she had no information on Speer, but Marvel said her condition had been upgraded from critical to stable. Her husband was treated for cuts to his arms and stomach and released, he said.

Vigo County prosecutor Terry Modesitt said charges against Foster could include attempted murder, aggravated batter, and attempted criminal confinement.

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