Dead woman's womb cut in baby mystery

July 19, 2008 8:42:27 PM PDT
Investigators hoped to confirm Sunday the identity of a woman whose body was found bound with duct tape with her uterus cut open in the apartment of another woman who falsely claimed a newborn baby was her own. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office has tentatively identified the victim as Kia Johnson, an investigator at the office who declined to give her name said Saturday night. Officials hoped to confirm the identity Sunday using dental records.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported earlier Saturday that Johnson's family had spoken to police. The paper said she was 18 years old and due to deliver July 30.

Allegheny County Police Assistant Superintendent James Morton said investigators were also trying to verify that the dead woman was the mother of a baby brought by Andrea Curry-Demus to West Penn Hospital on Thursday night.

"Circumstances would dictate that it has to be. There can't be too many cases similar to this at the same time," Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams said.

The body was found Friday after reporters called authorities about a foul odor coming from inside Curry-Demus' Wilkinsburg apartment. Police had been at the building Thursday night, but did not go into that apartment, Wilkinsburg Police Chief Ophelia Coleman said. Instead, a relative of Curry-Demus led them to another apartment, she said.

The woman appeared to have been dead for about two days, Williams said. Her hands and feet were bound with duct tape, and her face was covered with a plastic material that had also been secured with duct tape.

"We found a lot of evidence of a struggle having occurred," Williams said. He said there was evidence of drugs at the scene and investigators will look for their presence in the victim's system.

The woman had been pregnant and her body showed "evidence that there had been a partial evisceration - meaning her abdomen had been opened with a sharp weapon, the uterus had been opened," Williams said. Detectives found placenta at the scene.

The cause of death had not been determined, Williams said.

The baby was "apparently doing well" although there had been problems initially with a low heart rate and low temperature associated with blood loss, Williams said. The hospital would not release any information about the child.

According to police, Curry-Demus showed up at the hospital Thursday with a newborn that still had the umbilical cord attached. Tests later proved that she was not the mother.

Curry-Demus then told police she miscarried in June and didn't want to upset her own mother by telling her she had lost the baby. She said she befriended a pregnant woman and discussed buying her child when it was born, according to the criminal complaint. Curry-Demus told police she paid a woman named Tina $1,000 for the baby.

Curry-Demus was charged with child endangerment and dealing in infant children. She has been jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond and a psychiatric exam.

Morton said further charges in the case would be filed after the body is identified.

Jail officials declined to say if Curry-Demus had an attorney, and Morton said he didn't know. An attorney who once represented her did not immediately respond to a phone message left Saturday.

Ivee Blunt, a neighbor who attended a shower for Curry-Demus, said she wanted her in the delivery room when she delivered. Blunt said Curry-Demus told her on Sunday night that she expected to have the baby the next day, but on Monday said she wasn't ready to give birth.

In 1990, Curry-Demus, then known as Andrea Curry, was accused of stabbing a Wilkinsburg woman in an alleged plot to steal the woman's infant. A day after the stabbing, Curry-Demus snatched a 3-week-old baby girl from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The baby was found unharmed with Curry-Demus at her home the next day.

Curry-Demus pleaded guilty in 1991 to various charges stemming from both incidents and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, according to court records. She was paroled in August 1998 and began serving a 10-year probation term.


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