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Police: Man admits suffocating pregnant woman, son

Suspect leads authorities to makeshift, shallow grave


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We go inside the investigation of Stephen Barbee in the strangulations of Lisa Underwood and her son. Tune in Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on  Headline News.
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Police say Stephen Barbee confessed to the killings.

The leading cause of death among pregnant women is murder.
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DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- A Texas man arrested for the slayings of a pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son told police he suffocated Lisa and Jayden Underwood in their home, police said Tuesday.

Stephen Dale Barbee, 37, was arrested early Tuesday in Tyler, about 130 miles east of Fort Worth, and then transferred to Fort Worth, said Lt. Gene Jones, a Fort Worth police spokesman.

Jones later confirmed to reporters that Barbee confessed to the killings and led police to a makeshift, shallow grave where two bodies were found.

Jones said that the bodies could not yet be positively identified, but that their ages were consistent with those of Lisa Underwood, 34, and her son.

Barbee will be charged with capital murder, Fort Worth police said. He was being held in a Fort Worth jail Tuesday evening.

A court affidavit filed by police provided details of the crime, including the confessed suffocation.

The bodies were found in water in a wooded area south of Denton, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth, police said earlier.

The woman's blue Dodge Durango was found in a creek Monday in Denton.

Underwood, who was seven months pregnant, and her son were reported missing Saturday after she failed to appear at her baby shower.

Bond for the suspect was set at $2 million, a Smith County detention officer said.

Barbee and Underwood, both of Fort Worth, were romantically involved at "one time," Jones said.

A search of Underwood's home Saturday evening found "a significant amount of blood," but no signs of forced entry, Jones said.

Police on Monday searched a house near Underwood's home in northern Fort Worth, he said. Several neighbors said that Barbee lived at the house with another woman and her children.

An Amber Alert, issued by police over the weekend, was canceled Tuesday morning after Barbee's arrest, said a spokesman with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Lisa Underwood, who co-owned a bagel shop, and her son were described as friendly and likeable.

Jayden was "extremely caring and helpful. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He was basically one of those kids who was loved by everybody," his first-grade teacher, Janice Freeman, told CNN's "Headline Prime" Tuesday night.

Police: Friend saw bodies

Barbee was the "alleged father" of Lisa Underwood's unborn child, Detective R.A. Gallaway said in the affidavit.

According to the document, Barbee told detectives that his friend, Ron Dodd, dropped him off at Lisa Underwood's home late Friday. Barbee said the two began arguing over his refusal to leave his wife. Barbee said Underwood kicked him in the leg, and he punched her in the face, causing her nose to bleed.

Barbee, who police said earned a living clearing trees, said there was blood throughout the living room.

"During this fight Barbee held Underwood on the floor where she was suffocated and died," Gallaway said. When her son entered the room screaming, Barbee placed his hand over the child's mouth and nose and suffocated him, the detective said.

He said the police officers who went to the empty Underwood home Saturday night found "a large amount of blood in the living room on the carpet, furniture and walls.

"The amount of blood inside the residence was indicative of a person or persons suffering serious bodily injury," the affidavit says.

Barbee told investigators he placed the bodies in the back of Underwood's SUV, and on Saturday drove it to a deserted road, dug a shallow grave and put the victims inside.

Dodd told investigators that in addition to dropping Barbee off at Underwood's home late Friday, he gave Barbee several other rides on Saturday.

He dropped Barbee off at an old elementary school early Saturday, the affidavit says, then returned after Barbee called asking to be picked up.

Dodd said Barbee told him he had been visiting a female friend who he had made pregnant, and said, "I just can't do it." Dodd said he assumed the two were breaking up.

A short time later, Barbee asked to be driven to another location near the school.

Some time after being left there, according to the affidavit, Barbee called Dodd again, directing him to an area east of Justin, where he was standing next to an SUV that he said had run out of gas. Justin is located between Fort Worth and Denton.

Dodd said he saw the bodies of a woman and a male child in the back. Shaken, he left the scene, Gallaway said. Later, Barbee told his friend he had committed the slayings.

The affidavit says that about 3 a.m. Saturday police had tried to stop a man wearing muddy jeans and walking along a road in Denton County.

The man escaped into a wooded area. Saturday night, when detectives went to Barbee's home as part of their investigation of the Underwoods' disappearance, they asked him what he had been wearing early that morning and he showed them muddy jeans, the affidavit says.

CNN's Ed Lavandera and Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.


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