Womb raider

Stephanie offered a helping hand - but what was her real motive?

Published by: Laura Hinton
Published on: 10th March 2011

The phone rang and, as I bent to pick it up, a sharp twinge shot through my stomach. I took a deep breath, rubbing a hand across my swollen tummy, smiling to myself.
‘Hold your horses, little one,’ I soothed. ‘Not long now.’
I was nine months pregnant and due in less than a week, but there was still so much to do. Picking
up the phone, a familiar voice came down the line.
‘How are mummy and baby?’ Stephanie cooed, before I could even say hello.
Typical, I thought, laughing. My friend always checked about the baby before anything else. She was almost as excited about it as me.
‘We’re fine,’ I laughed. ‘She’s kicking more every day!’
‘Aww, I can’t wait to meet her,’ she chuckled. ‘Have you and PJ got everything ready?’
PJ, 36, was my husband.
‘No, we’re terrible, we’ve still got to get a crib,’ I replied.
‘Well, I’ve heard about this great warehouse where people donate all their unwanted baby bits,’ she said. ‘I was going to see if you fancied popping down with me tomorrow.’
‘Perfect, I’ll see you then,’ I said.
Me and Stephanie, 40, might have sounded like old friends, but we’d never met.
She’d phoned a month ago, after the hospital had told her I was expecting.
‘I work for a programme helping mums-to-be prepare for their new arrivals,’ she’d told me. She’d been a godsend, calling nearly every day.
My hubby couldn’t help laughing at how close we’d become, just by chatting on the phone.
‘Anyone’d think she was your long lost sister,’ he’d joked one morning, after we’d spent an hour-and-a-half nattering about baby bits.
‘I’m going to have a little sister soon,’ our six-year-old Sadie piped up, beaming.
‘Yes you are,’ I’d grinned, poking my tongue out playfully at PJ. No matter how much he joked, I, for one, was happy to have someone like Stephanie to talk to.
The next day, Stephanie arrived bright and early. She looked just like I’d imagined, a chubby, jolly woman, with a smile that lit up her face. And she was so chatty, just as she’d been on the phone. I knew we’d be friends for life.
We set off for the warehouse sale. About an hour into the journey, though, the car started making a weird noise. ‘I’ll drive back to my apartment,’ Stephanie frowned. ‘I can call a mechanic out and get on our way again later.’
In her flat, she put on a movie for me while she made some calls.
Better let PJ know I’ll be late home tonight, I thought, reaching for my phone.
Wham! Something hit me so hard, my teeth jarred. Through the pain I saw Stephanie – with a fireplace poker in her hand.
‘Y-you hit me?!’ I spluttered.
Without a word, she lashed out again. Groggy from the first blow, I heard a crack like thunder – it was my head being hit.
I had to get away, I had to save my baby! I staggered towards the door, but Stephanie pulled me down, biting and slapping. Blood pumped from my head, but I managed to grip her by the throat.
Snarling and swearing, she wrapped her legs around me, and squeezed. A wrenching pain rose up my belly.
‘My baby!’ I yelled, falling back.
The poker rose and fell, rose and fell, 25 times or more, each time smashing into my skull. I was slipping into unconsciousness, but I fought to stay awake.
Blink… Stephanie dragged me to the kitchen. Blink… she was standing over me holding a, what – a box cutter?! Blink… she lunged and sank the knife into me.
White-hot pain seared through my stomach as she hacked at me, slitting me from chest to hip.
Even through the agony, I realised with horror what her plan was – she was going to tear my baby from my stomach!
‘Lord, please forgive me for I have sinned,’ she mumbled, her eyes delirious and crazy.
‘No!’ I gasped. ‘Why…?’
But pain overwhelmed me, and I passed out.
A ringing noise stirred me awake. Feeling the softness of the duvet on my cheek, I came to, realising it had all been a nightmare. Then the pain hit, like a wave crashing over me, threatening to drown me.
Blood caked my face and head, and my stomach felt sticky. Oh God, I could feel a gaping, open wound down there…
Through a mist of agony, I realised it was light outside. It was morning – that meant I’d survived the night. But had my baby?
A knot of fear formed in my chest… I hadn’t felt one of her precious little kicks the whole time I’d been here.
That ringing noise was still going. What was it?
My mobile! I reached out, ignoring the pain that flared and made my head spin. Suddenly, Stephanie appeared, and yanked out the battery.
That was my lifeline gone.
She glared down at me and grinned like a maniac. ‘Time for a shower,’ she barked, pushing me towards the bathroom. 
What? Why?! She’d hacked at me and now she wanted to clean me up? Struggling to stand, I gripped the sides of the shower for support. Still, I looked around for something, anything I could use as a weapon. Nothing.
After I’d been washed, Stephanie demanded I sit down, pulling a pair of scissors from her pocket.
‘B-but what are you going to do?’ I shivered.
‘You’ve got my DNA under your fingernails,’ she repeated over and over.
As she clipped away at my nails, like a deranged woman, a chill crept down my spine.
People only removed DNA if they didn’t want to be found out, if they were going to dump a body, or something…
She was planning to kill me!
But I’d no strength left to fight. It took everything I’d got to sit up. Weak from loss of blood, unconsciousness kept claiming me, a heaviness I couldn’t hold off.
This woman, who I’d thought was my friend, had been playing me from the start. All she’d wanted was to steal my baby.
The next time I came round, I discovered I’d been tied to the bed with rags, and my open stomach was still bleeding.
Day turned to night, night to day. I’d no idea how long I’d been held for – or how much longer I could survive. All I could do was pray.
PJ will be looking for me now…the police will track me down… our baby will be fine…
The next thing I knew, Stephanie was standing over me holding a huge bowl of ice, which she set on the floor. Then she directed a light on to the bed.
Fear shot through me.
Was this it? I’d die here on this bed? Never see my family again?
Kneeling down, she stuffed a rag in my mouth and pulled out the box cutter. I screamed in terror as she flicked on Michael Jackson’s This Is It DVD and turned up the volume to drown out my cries.
Not again, please, not again!
The ice chilled and numbed my swollen belly, but not enough. As the knife plunged into me again my body bucked and I screamed and screamed in terror, pain, despair…
The bed sheets were soaked in blood, but still Stephanie slashed at my abdomen, 10, 15, 20 times.
Then I felt her fingers moving inside me. I choked back bile.
I need to buy myself extra time.
I have to get away.
‘My ankles!’ I mumbled. ‘The ties are so tight, I can’t feel my legs.’ 
What a crazy thing to complain about, but it seemed to do the trick, because she undid them.
Only a few seconds respite before Stephanie set to again, cutting deeper and deeper into me, her face a picture of concentration.
The pain was so intense, part of me longed for death, just to get away. Each second was an eternity.
Stephanie paused only once, to restart Thriller. ‘You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it.’ The words echoed in my head.
Suddenly, liquid seeped from my stomach. My waters? Had she hit my womb?
Stephanie panicked, dropping the knife. I couldn’t stop myself from looking down…
My guts were hanging out. And through the thin wall of my womb I could see the outline of my precious baby.
And with that sight, new strength flooded through me. I wouldn’t give up, I couldn’t, because then I’d be giving up on my unborn child too. Poor mite couldn’t be killed before she’d even had a chance to live.
Now I was determined. I was going to die anyway – so I might as well die trying to escape.
I looked at Stephanie. She seemed confused, unsure what to do as she clearly didn’t want to harm the baby. Moving like a robot, she walked over to the bedroom door and lay in front of it.
Seconds later, she was asleep.
This was it, my chance to get away. Both arms holding the sides of my stomach together, I shuffled off the bed.
Time to try standing. One, two, three! Gathering all my strength I forced my legs to take my weight – but they gave way like jelly.
Flinching, I waited for Stephanie to wake. She didn’t.
Once again, I made myself half-walk, half-crawl. Getting into a rhythm, I managed to walk taller… then I felt something slithering down my legs, and a tugging sensation from my belly.
My intestines, glistening like oily sausages, hung down to my knees. Choking back bile, I grappled with the slippery mass, trying to push what I could back in, desperately trying to ignore the blood and fluid trickling through my fingers. 
As I crawled nearer to the door and stepped over Stephanie’s sleeping body, the floorboards creaked under my feet.
But still she didn’t wake.
Struggling through the hallway, I somehow made it to the sliding doors in the front room and yanked them open.
I was outside! Snow was beneath my toes as I stumbled along the apartment block. Using one hand to hold my insides, and the other to support myself along the wall, I left a trail of blood behind me. 
Come on Teka, you can do this!
Banging on the neighbours’ doors, I screamed out, using every ounce of strength I had left.
But when I turned around, Stephanie was coming towards me – the knife in her hand!
Collapsing on to the floor, I shouted and shouted until a man finally raced out of the nearest apartment. ‘Oh my God!’ he gasped, looking down at my bloodstained t-shirt.
‘She’s just had a miscarriage. She’s delusional!’ Stephanie lied, as she ran ever closer.
‘No I’m not!’ I cried, lifting my top up. The man reeled back in shock at the sight of my gaping womb. More neighbours appeared, everyone shouting, the world was spinning around.
I was safe! I’d done it!
Then I blacked out.
I came around two days later. It took a few moments to recognise the familiar cheeky grin gazing down at me. ‘Teka,’ PJ smiled. ‘You’re in hospital.’
Thank God! I tore my eyes from his face, to my belly… it was flat, a huge plaster covered it.
‘No!’ I groaned. 
‘It’s okay, we’ve a beautiful baby girl,’ PJ soothed, slowly running his fingers over the palm of my hand. ‘She’s healthy. They delivered her by c-section.’
I couldn’t believe it… my prayers had been answered.
‘You were held for five days,’ PJ added. ‘It’s a miracle you’re alive.’
That was it!
‘Our baby’s name should be Miracle,’ I said. Somehow we’d survived five days of hell and torture. God only knew how.
A week later, Stephanie – real name Veronica Deramous – was charged with attempted murder, assault and unlawful imprisonment.
At Prince George County Court, Deramous, who’d falsely told relatives she was pregnant, was jailed for 25 years, after pleading guilty to assaulting me.
Although no prison term will ever make up for what I was put through, a year on from the attack I can’t believe my luck. I lay on the bed with Miracle, and I’m still stunned to think we survived such a horrifying ordeal.
Miracle likes to playfully kick me in the tummy, but I never complain or tell her off. How could I, when I came so very close to never feeling those baby kicks again?
Teka Adams, 30, Washington DC, USA