US woman gets 8 years for plot to steal baby
From Associated Press
August 27, 2008 1:01 PM EDT

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri - A 20-year-old woman who kidnapped a pregnant teenager she met online in a foiled plot to steal her unborn baby has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Lauren Gash, of Odessa, pleaded guilty last month to kidnapping, assault and felonious restraint in the July 2007 attack on Amanda Howard, then 18, inside a Blue Springs motel room.

Howard, now Amanda Culley, was pregnant, single and unemployed when two women she met on the Internet lured her from her home with promises that they would drive her to get baby clothes.

Culley got into the car with Gash and co-defendant Alisa D. Betts, of Atchison, Kansas, but soon realized something was wrong, police have said.

The pair sprayed Culley with pepper spray and drove her to a motel room where Gash and Betts had set out scissors, a sheet of plastic and a multipurpose fishing tool, along with diapers, a blanket and a fake birth certificate.

"The motel room basically was set up for surgery to take place," assistant Jackson County prosecutor Traci Stansell said Tuesday at Gash's sentencing hearing according to The Kansas City Star.

Prosecutors say Betts got cold feet and called police. The officers who came to the motel thought they were checking on a distressed pregnant woman and became suspicious when they saw the duct tape around Culley's neck and in her hair.

Before the attack, Gash had registered at Babies "R" Us, held a baby shower and wore maternity clothes, prosecutors said. She also told relatives that she had given birth to a boy.

Culley gave birth to a son two days after the attack. Betts is set to go on trial in October.

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