Suspect in pregnant mom's gruesome murder may have targeted others
HILLSBORO, Ore. - A woman accused of killing an expectant mother and cutting her child from the womb may have contacted other pregnant women in the weeks before she settled on a victim, detectives say.
The new details emerged as prosecutors awaited autopsy results to determine if the child ever drew a breath, the legal threshold in Oregon to determine whether murder charges can be brought against 27-year-old Korena Roberts in the baby's death. Prosecutors will have to decide by Monday, the deadline for a grand jury indictment and Roberts' next scheduled court appearance.
Roberts already faces a murder charge in the death of the child's mother, 21-year-old Heather Snively. She has not yet entered a plea.
Roberts was arrested Friday after police found Snively's body in the crawl space of the home Roberts shared with her boyfriend. Snively's abdomen was cut open and her unborn child was removed, investigators said. She was about 8 months pregnant.
Before Snively's body was found, Roberts had been telling people that she was going to have a baby. She bought a stroller at a garage sale, put a crib together on her front lawn and placed an ad on Craigslist looking for baby clothes.
Sgt. David Thompson, spokesman for the Washington County sheriff's office, said detectives "believe that Ms. Roberts may have had contact with numerous pregnant women in the Portland metropolitan area."
He said investigators have gotten some calls from women making that claim.
"I don't know if they've confirmed if they're legitimate or not," Thompson said of the calls.
Thompson declined to say how Roberts contacted the other women or what she may have said to them. But he did say Roberts' computer had been seized.
Portland attorney James Glover, representing Roberts, declined to comment Tuesday evening.
Snively's mother has said her daughter and Roberts met through Craigslist while Snively was living in Maryland, and that the two became friends and talked online. Snively moved to Oregon because her boyfriend, the father of her unborn child, found a better job there.
Roberts has two young children of her own.
The father of one of those children, 31-year-old Travis Tooley of Billings, Mont., said his relationship with Roberts was brief. He described Roberts as childish and difficult to communicate with.
"She's just not normal," Tooley said.
"It's so absolutely insane. It's like (she had) a broken wire or something."
Tooley, however, said he did not know of any history of mental illness.
Court documents filed in October in a child support dispute between Roberts and Tooley show Roberts was relying on support payments and student financial aid to get by.
The documents noted that Roberts quit a $9.50-per-hour job in 2007 to go to school, and that she had another child, a boy, to support, in addition to the daughter she shared with Tooley.
Tooley said his main concern now is to get the 10-year-old girl out of Oregon and to Montana.
"I remember how cruel grade-schoolers can be," Tooley said. "How's she going to ever understand it? Nobody is ever going to understand it."