May 16

This Day in History

Crime

May 16, 1975:

A nurse steals another woman's unborn baby

Norma Jean Armistead checks herself into Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, California, with a newborn that she claims to have given birth to at home. Some staff members were already aware that Armistead, a nurse at the hospital, had a pregnancy listed on her medical charts the previous year, but dismissed it as a mistake because they didn't believe the 44-year-old woman was still capable of getting pregnant.

Examining doctors were even more confused when it appeared that Armistead hadn't actually given birth. The mystery was soon solved when a 28-year-old woman turned up dead in her Van Nuys apartment. The baby she was carrying, and expected to give birth to shortly, had been cut from her body. Doctors quickly pieced the evidence together and Armistead was arrested for murder.

Armistead had planned the strange and horrific crime almost nine months earlier. In October, she managed to sneak into her medical records to create a false report of her pregnancy. Then, in May, she used the hospital's files to find a woman who was due to give birth. Armistead went to the woman's apartment and stabbed her to death before ripping the baby from her womb to pass off as her own.

Armistead, unsuccessfully pleading insanity, was convicted of murder and sent to prison for life.

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