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Andrea Curry-Demus: Hypernatalist Obsession, more articles and the psychology of ‘why’

(As this is an evolving story, I strongly urge readers to explore my previous coverage via my Andrea Curry-Demus tag, read from the bottom up in order read along chronologically, oldest to newest.)

In light of new details about her time spent in jail (see below) I’ve modified my backgrounder introduction paragraph that I’m adding to these posts about Andrea Curry-Demus slightly:

Andrea Curry-Demus is a womyn with a history of abducting other womyn’s children, in one of her prior attempts she resorted to stabbing the child’s mother. She pled guilty in 1991 to aggravated assault and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. In August 1998 she was paroled and began serving 10 years of probation.

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So moving on to tonight’s early evening update:

In this recently updated CNN.com piece Woman’s corpse may be link to mystery baby (July 19th, ‘08) we learn Curry-Demus’ next court date is set for Thursday the 24th:

Curry-Demus is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a felony, and dealing in infant children, a misdemeanor. Court records show that she was arraigned on the felony charge Friday and is next set to appear in court on Thursday. She is being held at the Allegheny County Jail, WTAE reported.

The baby is still doing well:

The baby is in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said, and will be released to child welfare workers when he is ready.

We also get many more details on Curry-Demus’ two previous incidents of child abduction, her mental health history, and her own history of miscarriages:

According to court records obtained by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Curry-Demus became pregnant at 12 and miscarried four months later. She had a second miscarriage in 1990, when she was 21, the paper said.

Only a few months after the second miscarriage, Curry-Demus befriended a woman who had just given birth but later attacked her with a knife and tried to steal the baby, the paper said, citing the court records.

The woman’s husband intervened, and she fled, the newspaper reported.

The next day, she went to a hospital and befriended a woman who had brought her 3-week-old daughter to the hospital to be treated for meningitis, the Tribune-Review said.

When the woman went home for the night, Curry-Demus left the hospital with the baby. It was found at her home, unharmed, the following day.

In 1991, according to the records, she pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from both incidents and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

She was paroled in August 1998 and ordered to serve 10 years of probation, the paper said.

Curry-Demus was examined by psychiatrists at the Allegheny County Jail before her sentencing and was diagnosed with severe depression, personality disorders and auditory hallucinations, the newspaper reported, citing court records.

She told doctors she spent a lot of time thinking about her miscarriages and “kept hearing babies cry,” the Tribune-Review said.

This piece also points out her prison term, something I first found details of and commented on after the update I wrote earlier this afternoon (specifically on this AP story from 2:31pm EST ).

The CNN piece concludes by providing two other similar recent cases:

Earlier this year, a Kansas woman was sentenced to death in the 2004 killing of a Missouri woman whose baby was cut from her womb.

Lisa Montgomery was convicted in October in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, who was found strangled in her Skidmore, Missouri, home. Stinnett’s womb was cut open, and her unborn child was missing. Montgomery was found days later at home in Kansas, where she was attempting to pass the baby off as her own.

(Note, “unborn child” is loaded language, and as such, terminology I reject.)

As mentioned above, the earlier full AP piece from 2:13 this afternoon provided a few other new details, for example, how the term “evisceration” was likely being utilized in the autopsy of the unidentified womyn:

The medical office would not elaborate on what was meant by “evidence of partial evisceration that included opening of the uterus.”

Pathologist Cyril Wecht, who previously served as the county’s coroner but did not participate in the autopsy, said evisceration means to cut into the abdomen and remove organs and tissues. “Obviously, they did so to get to the baby,” he said.

(Seems obvious, I know, but I’ve included it for clarity’s sake.)

While unnamed, we also learn of media attempts to contact her lawyer in the previous cases:

In the early 1990s, Curry-Demus pleaded guilty to charges relating to abducting a baby and stabbing a pregnant woman in a plot to steal her unborn baby, a newspaper reported.

The jail wouldn’t say whether Curry-Demus had an attorney, and a message left for an attorney who has previously represented her was not immediately returned.

and, as mentioned above the article also elaborates on the circumstances leading to those earlier charges:

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, according to court records reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The baby was in the hospital to be treated for meningitis and the girl’s 16-year-old mother had gone home for the night when Curry-Demus took the child, court records say. 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 3 to 10 years in prison. She was paroled in August 1998 and began serving a 10 years of probation, the Tribune-Review reported.

This Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, Autopsy: Woman had uterus cut open from this afternoon (July 19th, ‘08), quotes Allegheny County Police assistant superintendent James Morton on how the police are approaching the case:

“What were are focusing on right now is to identify this young girl and then go from there with charges,” Morton said.

The medical examiner is trying to identify the woman with dental records.

The article also contains a number of pictures related to the story in a photo gallery.

I also wanted to backtrack a bit to an AP story I had missed from earlier this morning prior to the autopsy, Autopsy scheduled on bound body found at home of Pa. woman who claimed she bought newborn, (June 19th, ‘08). It too makes mention of her as having done (what appears to have been 7 years of) jail time:

…38-year-old Andrea Curry-Demus, who served time in the 1990s for attacking one mother and kidnapping a second woman’s newborn baby.

As of this morning, it was still unclear whether or not the dead womyn had even been pregnant, much less whether she had given birth or not:

Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams said the woman had been dead about 24 hours, but Williams said he could not tell if she had recently given birth. The autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

Some blood was found near the body, Williams said, but he would not say if there were signs of trauma.

(Note, after the autopsy, the time of death was pushed back to having likely been dead two days before she as discovered, and of course, we now know she had indeed been pregnant.)

Prior to the autopsy details such as the womyn’s age were also undetermined:

The body found Friday was that of a black woman, but Williams said he couldn’t tell how old she was.

Apparently, as briefly mentioned above, an additional charge against Curry-Demus, “dealing in infant children”, (a misdemeanor) was also added:

Curry-Demus was initially charged Friday with one count of child endangerment. She was later charged with dealing in infant children, a misdemeanor, according to court records. She has been jailed until she posts $10,000 bond and undergoes a psychiatric exam.

The article details some additional family and friends’ reactions. As I had mentioned in my previous coverage, Curry-Demus had been presenting herself as pregnant at the time, and in the below we find her neighbor discussing the timing Andrea had spoken of in relation to her own ‘impending’ pseudo-’delivery’:

Stephanie Epps, 41, the suspect’s sister-in-law, said she had doubted the pregnancy.

“I just had a feeling that she wasn’t pregnant,” Epps said. “She would never let you touch her stomach and pregnant women let you do that. … I liked her and I still do like her.”

Ivee Blunt, a neighbor who also was at the shower, said Curry-Demus wanted her in the delivery room when she gave birth.

Blunt said Curry-Demus told her on Sunday night that she expected to have the baby the next day; but on Monday, she said, Curry-Demus told her she wasn’t ready to give birth.

Finally, adding to that ‘backgrounder’ file, see this piece, Police: Woman Cut Baby from Mother’s Womb, Taking Children Can Bring Sense of Identity, Self-Worth, Psychologists Say from ABC News back on July 2nd, ‘08. It details some of the psychology of womyn who commit crimes such as this against other womyn and how hypernatalist obsession lies at the core of such events:

A Seattle-area woman is accused of killing a pregnant stranger and cutting her live baby from her womb, one of several similar incidents that mental health experts say sheds light on the rare phenomenon of females with a pathological desire to obtain a baby at any cost.

The story and video go on to detail the recent case of Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong:

As first reported by ABC News affiliate KOMO, Seattle, Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong was arrested for allegedly binding Araceli Gomez’s hands and feet with yarn, removing her baby and stabbing the woman to death. Police say Synhavong later claimed that Gomez’s infant son, who survived the horrific incident, was her own.

In the last three months, two other women, in Illinois and Missouri, were convicted of similar crimes.

Ultimately, these cases often come down to desperate desire for a child, a fertility obsession of sorts:

Though the alleged crimes may seem incomprehensible, forensic psychologists told ABC News that some people who kill pregnant women and attempt to steal their babies may be motivated by extreme low self-esteem and a pathological desire to bear children.

“Unlike many homicides, in which a variety of different factors and influences make it impossible to generalize, the woman who commits this crime is someone whose feminine identity is very much wrapped up in her fertility,” said Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist and head of The Forensic Panel.

Such obsession with having a child can take on extreme proportions in a culture that teaches womyn that perhaps THE fundamental facet of their existence as womyn is their ability to have children (or lack thereof). In short there are both interpersonal and societal rewards for having children, and penalties for not, and some womyn in that context internalize such pressures to unimaginable degrees, leading to unimaginable actions:

Suspects generally suffer from psychosis or a severe personality disorder, said Joel Dvoskin, a forensic psychologist and assistant professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Having children also carries tremendous cultural importance, said James Garbarino, a forensic psychologist at Loyola University. “They perceive it as bringing to them identity and self worth and recognition in the community,” he said.

In these womyn, when they lack the child they so desire, the experienced ‘need’ for such can be translated into horrific actions, usually without any empathy for the victims. Their actions are entangled in both narcissism and obsessive coveting of other womyn’s children or even pregnancies:

“The most likely answers are that the person is actually psychotic or they just have such an extraordinarily extreme way of thinking about the world, that wanting something makes it theirs,” he said.

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