LONGMONT, Colo. — A Colorado woman accused of cutting open the belly of a pregnant woman and removing her unborn baby went to great lengths to show her family she was expecting a baby herself, even arranging to meet her husband for a pre-natal appointment on the day of the attack, authorities said.
But when Dynel Lane’s husband came home to get her, he found her covered in blood and a baby gasping for breath in a bathtub.
Lane told her husband she suffered a miscarriage, and he took her and the baby to a hospital, where she was later arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and other crimes. Police wrote in her arrest affidavit that she lured the pregnant stranger to her home with a Craigslist ad for baby clothes and then cut her open.
The gruesome case shocked Colorado and revived a highly charged debate in that state over when a fetus can legally be considered a human being.
District Attorney Stan Garnett said he will wait for the results of an autopsy on the baby, planned for Friday, to determine when and how the baby died and what charges to file.
“I’ve never quite seen this fact pattern before,” he said.
While drifting in and out of consciousness, the 26-year-old woman, who was nearly 8 months pregnant with a baby girl, told police she did not know Lane and only went to her house in response to the ad, affidavit states.
A doctor told investigators the incision in the mother’s belly was well performed and would have required some research on Cesarean births.
The woman later managed to call 911 and police arrived to help her sometime after Lane and her husband left.
In a recording of the call, a woman with a dazed-sounding voice says she has been stabbed and pleads for help.
“She cut me,” the woman says, later adding, “I’m pregnant.”
“Please help me,” she says. “Help, help.”
Police said the woman was alert and answering questions on Thursday, and her family released a statement to the Longmont Times-Call newspaper thanking first responders.
“We are thankful for the outpouring of love and support from the local community and others who have expressed their condolences. We know you are grieving too,” the family said.
A judge ordered Lane to remain in jail on $2 million bond after Assistant Boulder County District Attorney Ryan Brackley described the crime as “extremely violent” and premeditated.
Lane’s lawyer Kathryn Herold did not comment on her behalf at the hearing.
Under Colorado law, Lane could only face a murder charge if the baby was alive outside the womb, an emotional issue in the state. Abortion opponents in Colorado have unsuccessfully pushed measures to declare a fetus a human being, which would enable homicide charges to be filed for their deaths.
In a sign of how critical the issue will be, Lane’s defense lawyer has asked for an expert to be present during the examination.
Garnett would not comment on whether mental illness is a question in the case but said prosecutors were looking at Lane’s history.
State records show Lane has an expired nurse’s aide license. One of her two teenage daughters told police Lane showed her an ultrasound photo of a baby boy in December 2014, according to the affidavit. The teen said she couldn’t tell her mother was pregnant, and she is petite. Yet the girl said her mother also kept photos of herself appearing pregnant on a cellphone.
Lane and her former husband lost a 19-month-old boy in a drowning accident in southern Colorado’s Pueblo County in 2002, Lane’s ex-father-in-law, Aaron Cruz, said.
Cruz said the couple was devastated by the child’s death. However, he said Lane seemed like a “fine parent” and relatives were shocked to learn of the accusations against her.
A July 2002 obituary for Lane’s son, Michael Alexander Cruz, in the Pueblo Chieftan said the boy loved playing with his sisters, cousins and friends and had just learned to sing his first song, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Lane’s then-husband wasn’t home at the time of the drowning, the newspaper reported. She and their two daughters, then 5 and 3, searched for the boy until they found him in the fish pond.
He had been playing with his sisters while their mother was busy in another part of the house, the newspaper said.