October 6, 2011
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Annette Morales-Rodriguez (33) kills Maritza Ramirez-Cruz (23) in an attempt to steal her unborn son

Emergency dispatchers were called by Morales-Rodriguez on October 6, who stated she had given birth in her home and the baby was not breathing. First responders found the infant was already deceased, and Morales-Rodriguez explained she was unaware she had been pregnant. She was taken to the hospital but soon left against medical advice.

The medical examiner who performed the newborn’s autopsy discovered the child had not been birthed through the vaginal canal, but rather had been removed from his mother’s womb “by force,” evidenced by parts of the mother’s uterus and ovaries still attached to the baby’s body.

Police arrived at Morales-Rodriguez’s residence to bring her to the hospital for examination. Before the exam was conducted, in the privacy of a restroom, Morales-Rodriguez scratched her interior vaginal wall to make herself bleed, though the ruse did not convince medical staff who noted Morales-Rodriguez had not recently delivered a child. She was then taken into custody and questioned by police.

Morales-Rodriguez reportedly admitted that her boyfriend had wanted a son but she was unable to “stay pregnant.” At one point, in desperation, Morales-Rodriguez told her boyfriend she was pregnant and “began to panic because she knew she was not.” Not only was Morales-Rodriguez’s boyfriend convinced she was expecting a child, her neighbors were, too. “She was rubbing her belly all the time,” one neighbor told reporters after the murders. “She was telling everyone she was, she was getting bigger.”

According to Morales-Rodriguez, she began to look for a pregnant woman in order to steal her child. On her second day of searching, October 6, she saw Maritza Ramirez-Cruz near a social services building which catered to pregnant women. Morales-Rodriguez then offered her a ride.

Ramirez-Cruz was approximately 40 weeks pregnant with her son Omar at the time of her murder. After running an errand for Ramirez-Cruz, Morales-Rodriguez stated she had to go to her own home quickly to change shoes. Ramirez-Cruz followed her into the home to use her restroom. When Ramirez-Cruz exited the bathroom, “the defendant hit [her] several times in the head with a baseball bat” and “squeezed [her] around the throat until she was no longer conscious,” according to the charging documents. Morales-Rodriguez then used duct tape to cover Ramirez-Cruz’s eyes and nose, and placed a plastic bag around her head. The medical examiner ruled her cause of death as exsanguination and asphyxiation.

After attacking Ramirez-Cruz, Morales-Rodriguez used a hobby knife to cut Ramirez-Cruz’s abdomen to “duplicate the [cesarean section] prices she had seen on the Discovery Channel.” Morales-Rodriguez removed Omar — who was stillborn as a result of his mother’s murder — and the placenta before dragging Ramirez-Cruz’s body to the basement and concealing her behind a water heater.

Morales-Rodriguez was arrested and charged with two counts of intentional homicide.

During trial, the defense did not attempt to deny Morales-Rodriguez’s involvement in the attack but argued the deaths of the victims were not intentional. They also produced an expert witness, Dr. Anne Speckhard, who testified she Morales-Rodriguez dissociative identity disorder (formerly referred to as multiple personality disorder). According to Dr. Speckhard, Morales-Rodriguez had an alter (an alternate personality) named Lara who took over the host (the most prominent personality within the system) at the time of the killings. “Annette describes ‘Lara’ as 18 years old, ‘mean’ and ‘angry’ and states that ‘she wants to take revenge on all the men [who hurt her],” Dr. Speckhard told the court, and noted the split in personalities likely developed in response to repeated sexual abuse by Morales-Rodriguez while she was a child.

Morales-Rodriguez was convicted on both counts of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Maritza Ramirez-Cruz pictured with her husband and three children, whose faces have been pixelated to protect their anonymity

Sources:
“Life sentence in fatal fetal theft case.” The Boston Globe. December 14, 2012
Ramde, Dinesh. “Woman gets life in prison for cutting fetus out of womb, killing mom.” Madison. December 13, 2012. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime_and_courts/woman-gets-life-in-prison-for-cutting-fetus-out-of-womb-killing-mom/article_f4b48832-4572-11e2-914a-001a4bcf887a.html
“Annette Morales-Rodriguez, Wisconsin woman, convicted in fetal-abduction deaths.” CBS News. September 20, 2012. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/annette-morales-rodriguez-wisconsin-woman-convicted-in-fetal-abduction-deaths/
“New twist in murder case involving Morales-Rodriguez.” Fox 6 Milwaukee. March 9, 2012. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://www.fox6now.com/news/new-twist-in-murder-case-involving-morales-rodriguez
Moon, Brian. “Charges filed in unborn baby stealing case.” Wisconsin Radio Network. October 11, 2011. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://www.wrn.com/2011/10/charges-filed-in-unborn-baby-stealing-case/
Caron, Christina. “Woman Who Stole Fetus Charged With First Degree Homicide.” ABC News. October 10, 2011. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/woman-stole-fetus-charged-degree-homicide/story?id=14705180
Mann, Camille. “Wisc. woman Annette Morales-Rodriguez charged with murder for cutting out another woman’s fetus.” CBS News. October 11, 2011. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wisc-woman-annette-morales-rodriguez-charged-with-murder-for-cutting-out-another-womans-fetus/
Richmond, Todd. “Documents: Wis. woman hatched plan to steal baby.” Park City Daily News [Bowling Green, Kentucky]. October 11, 2011
“Woman Accused Of Removing Fetus From Mother.” WFMY News 2. October 10, 2011. Accessed: October 6, 2020. https://www.wfmynews2.com/article/news/woman-accused-of-removing-fetus-from-mother/83-376531132

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