There 24 known Cesarean Kidnapping cases, 25 if we include the institutional cases of the 1976-1983 Argentinian “Dirty War.”
FULL TEXT: Psychiatrists have recommended the release of a woman who was committed to a mental hospital 17 months ago for killing a pregnant woman and cutting out her baby.
The district attorney’s office says it is powerless to prevent the hospital from letting the woman go because she was acquitted — on grounds of insanity.
Winifred Ransom, 38, who admitted at her trial that she shot and bludgeoned the woman and removed the baby with a butcher knife, is no longer insane, doctors at Byberry State Hospital said.
Margaret Sweeney, 26, the woman Mrs. Ransom admitted killing, was eight months pregnant at the time of the incident in November 1974. Her infant, a girl, survived and is being raised by relatives. Mrs. Sweeney and her husband were estranged.
Mrs. Ransom was acquitted in July 1975. Psychiatrists testified at her trial that she was driven by a psychotic delusion caused by her inability to bear children.
Common Pleas Court Judge Juanita Kidd Stout committed Mrs. Ransom to Byberry a mental hospital.
Last month, Judge Stout received letters from Dr. Albert Soloman and Dr. Juan Villazon of Byberry, recommending that Mrs. Ransom be released.
The doctors said that Mrs. Ransom remains “schizophrenic” but no longer requires in-patient treatment.
“If you discharge her,” Judge Stout wrote in reply, “she is your responsibility and not mine. I really cannot understand how, in all circumstances of this case, you can recommend discharging Mrs. Ransom to go out into the community and resume normal life.”
The request for release was the third from the hospital. Five months after Mrs. Ransom was committed, doctors asked that she be released for the Christmas holidays in 1975 because her condition had improved considerably, according to court records.
But she had not been declared sane and both the judge and the Philadelphia district attorney denied the request.
Two months later, Dr. George Buck wrote that the woman was “in good condition” and should be transferred to an out-patient facility.
The district attorney’s office also denied that request and wrote that “due to the horrendous nature of the offense... this office seriously questions the advisability of such a recommendation by hospital officials at this early date “
Joseph Murray, chief of the homicide unit of the district attorney’s office, said Thursday that although he was personally “outraged” by the present situation, the district attorney’s office had no power to prevent Mrs. Ransom’s release or to further prosecute her since she has been acquitted of the murder charge.
Doctors involved in the case have not been available for comment.
However, Dr. Anthony Dunfield, a spokesman for Byberry, said “We’re concerned about doing what’s ethically and legally proper. There are civil rights involved ... You can’t lock up a healthy person forever and throw away the key “
[“Doctors ask release of once-insane killer,” syndicated (AP), Corpus Christi Times (Tx.), p. 7A; photo from other source]