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Slain mom laid to rest

Skidmore residents hold memorial after public burial

Pallbearers carry Bobbie Jo Stinnett's coffin to her gravesite Tuesday.
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Bobbie Jo Stinnet is buried in Missouri.

Friends of a Kansas woman are shocked at the charges she faces.

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (CNN) -- Friends and family clutched each other in grief Tuesday as they mourned Bobbie Jo Stinnett, the 23-year-old woman police say was strangled before her fetus was cut from her body.

After a private funeral in Maryville, Missouri, Stinnett was buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in her hometown of Skidmore, Missouri. Most of the town's 300 residents attended.

The pastor who married Bobbie Jo and Zeb Stinnett about a year ago delivered the eulogy.

"I told the people a lot of these terrible tragedies that happen, it's impossible for us to understand because we're not big enough in our minds," the Rev. Herald Hamon of Skidmore Christian Church told CNN.

The pastor recalled that when the couple married, "They had great hope for the future. They wanted to build a home for themselves and plan a life and have children."

After Stinnett's burial, Skidmore residents held a reception in her memory.

"It's just been really hard on everybody, and I guess everyone feels there's a better place and Bobbie is there now, and we just feel for her family and her little girl," said a woman among the mourners.

Stinnett died Thursday at her Skidmore home. She was eight months pregnant, and police said her fetus was removed from her body.

Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kansas, faces a federal charge of kidnapping resulting in death in connection with the slaying and the kidnapping of the fetus. The FBI said she has confessed to the crime.

If convicted, Montgomery could face the death penalty or life in prison.

Stinnett is the third member of her family to be murdered within the last four years, Jim Flink, a reporter for KMBC television, told CNN's Larry King. One of her cousins was stomped to death by a boyfriend in 2000, he said, and another disappeared two years ago.

Montgomery is due in federal court on Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas. She made an initial appearance Monday, sitting motionless and silent, never looking up from the complaint in front of her as her court-appointed attorneys answered all questions.

Officials have said they expect Montgomery to waive extradition Thursday, and she will be transferred to Missouri, where she is to stand trial. She was arrested in Kansas and charged in Missouri.

Authorities said Montgomery met Stinnett through an online chat room and -- using a fictitious name -- expressed interest in a rat-terrier dog, a type she bred and sold. Montgomery allegedly obtained directions to Stinnett's home and visited her there Thursday. Hours later, officials have said, Stinnett's mother found her body.

The baby, who has since been named Victoria Jo, was located in Montgomery's custody the following day, police said. She was taken to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Care Center in Topeka, Kansas, and was released Monday night after being united with her father, Zeb Stinnett.

"She was in remarkably good condition, considering all she's been through," Carol Wheeler, vice president of Stormont-Vail Health Care, told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday. "When she arrived, she was also in very good condition."

That surprised health care workers, Wheeler said, because normally babies born a month premature are in an intensive-care setting and supervised by doctors during their first day of life. Obviously, that did not happen in Victoria Jo's case, she said, but "clearly, she was a very healthy fetus and had done really well during those first 24 hours."

A woman involved in the rat-terrier breeding and showing community -- also a visitor to the chat room -- said Montgomery and Stinnett had met.

"They definitely knew each other," said the woman, who was identified as Nancy Strudl on ABC's "Good Morning America." She believes the two communicated on the Internet and met face-to-face for the first time at a dog show in Abilene, Kansas, in November 2003. Strudl, who was also at the show, has a photograph showing both women.

Stinnett was "a real shy lady, but real sweet, and wouldn't hurt anybody or anything," Strudl said. "Very trusting, but very intelligent. She was a really sweet lady."

Members of the rat-terrier community did not trust Montgomery, she said. "We knew that she lied a lot. ... Lisa had been telling the entire rat-terrier community for months and months and months that she was pregnant."

About a month and a half ago, Montgomery claimed that she was pregnant with twins but had lost one of them, she said.

"The girl was skinny as a rail," Strudl said. "She never gained an ounce. None of us believed that she could be pregnant."

Strudl said she believed Stinnett would not have given Montgomery directions to her house and let her in, and wondered if Montgomery disguised herself in addition to using a fictitious name.

Still others who knew the couple, however, said they had no reason to doubt her claims of pregnancy.

"That's why it's such a shock to the community," family friend Darrel Schultze said on "Larry King Live." "Knowing the family as we do, it's just hard to understand for us."

CNN's Jonathan Freed contributed to this report.

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