Lisa Montgomery’s last words before she was executed was a one-word response after she was asked if she would like to say anything: “No.” She was convicted in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett and kidnap of her baby daughter, Victoria Jo, and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Montgomery cut Stinnett’s baby from her womb and pretended the girl was her own child following the gruesome murder December 16, 2004 in the small town of Skidmore, Missouri. Victoria Jo survived and was rescued the day after her mother’s death.
Montgomery’s attorneys asked for a stay of her execution, arguing she was not able to understand the reason for her execution, pointing to mental health issues stemming from a history of abuse. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the stay, and Montgomery was executed January 13, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Reporter Who Witnessed Montgomery’s Execution Described Her Final Moments
After a reunion with his kidnapped daughter in December 2004, Zeb Stinnett said: "It's been emotional.
"But, I just look at [the baby], pick her up and that usually does it."
Zeb, then aged 24, named her Victoria Jo, and dubbed her a "miracle".
— Dwight (@W_Dwight_Wilson) October 19, 2020
Michael Tarm, a legal affairs writer for the Associated Press, was present for Montgomery’s execution and detailed her final moments. He wrote during the early morning hours as he and other reporters awaited news of whether the execution would proceed. He said an indication would be whether they were moved to vans.
“We are leaving for vans to take us to the death chamber,” he wrote just after midnight, adding he was required to leave his phone behind.
A little over an hour later, he wrote, “#LisaMontgomery is dead. Pronounced at 1:31 a.m.”
He then described the process and Montgomery’s last moments.
As the execution process began, a female executioner standing over #LisaMontgomery’s shoulder, leaned over, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. “No,” Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.
As a curtain was raised from a divider separating #LisaMontgomery from witness rooms, she looked momentary bewildered, glancing at journalists peering at from behind glass. She tapped her fingers nervously for seconds but otherwise showed no signs of distress, and closed her eyes.
As the lethal injection began, at around 1:18 a.m., Montgomery kept licking her lips and gasped briefly as the pentobarbital entered her body through IVs on both arms. A few minutes later, her midsection throbbed for a moment, but quickly stopped.
I could see #LisaMontgomery tapping her fingers on the gurney. When an executioner removed her face mask and asked if she had any last words, she said in a muffled voice,"No." Some 10 minutes later, at 1:31 a.m., she was dead. Our story from this morning. https://t.co/hQ2ZNERVug
— Michael Tarm (@mtarm) January 13, 2021
Tarm later learned that one of Montgomery’s attorneys expected a spiritual adviser to be inside the chamber to sing “Jesus Loves You” to Montgomery as the deadly cocktail took effect. But the spiritual adviser was not in the chamber.
Something new we learned about the execution I witnessed this morning:
As it started, a #LisaMontgomery lawyer says she expressed surprise her spiritual adviser wasn’t inside the chamber. An official told her Montgomery didn’t want one there.
‘I insisted that she did — as I was present when (the spiritual adviser) discussed with her his plan to sing ‘Jesus Loves You’ to her while the chemicals flowed,’ the lawyer, Amy Harwell, said she responded to the official.
Harwell said that since Montgomery was still alive and the spiritual adviser still in the building, it should have been easy to arrange for him to enter. But the guard said it was too late to arrange.
Asked about Harwell’s account, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said the spiritual adviser was “afforded an opportunity” to be inside the chamber.
Montgomery Was the First Woman to Be Executed Federally Since Bonnie Brown Heady in 1953
The *real* victim, in this tragedy is…
Bobbie Jo Stinnett pic.twitter.com/0y4ooZwteS
— GregoryNotGreg (@GregoryNotGreg1) January 13, 2021
Montgomery was the first woman to be federally executed in nearly 70 years. She was the first woman to be executed by the United States government since the 1953 execution of Bonnie Brown Heady of Missouri. Heady was a prostitute and widow of a bank robber who kidnapped 6-year-old Robert “Bobby” Cosgrove Greenlease, Jr. Heady took the boy to Carl Austin Hall, her boyfriend, who fatally shot the boy, according to MissouriNet.
Sandra Babcock, one of Montgomery’s attorneys, told 41 Action News that legal guilt was not the question that should determine whether to execute Montgomery.
“The issue in this case has never been about whether she is legally guilty; she is,” she said. “The question is whether she deserves to die for her crime and that question is a much more complex one that revolves around her moral culpability as opposed to her legal culpability. Is this the kind of person that is so sadistic, so irredeemable, that she deserves to be eliminated from the human race?”