Darci Pierce and the Murder of Cindy Ray

The First Documented Case of Caesarean Kidnapping

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Cindy Ray was eight months pregnant when she was abducted and murdered by an obsessed woman who needed a baby at whatever the cost.

The Lie

Darci Pierce lied to her husband and friends about being pregnant. She stuffed her clothing a little more each month so she would look pregnant. But as the months wore on, Pierce was running out of excuses for why she had not had her baby. Fearing her pregnancy was the major hold she had on her husband and the reason he married her, the 19-year-old Pierce devised a plan to get a baby.


Pierce studied books about Caesarean operations. She bought the instruments she needed to perform the procedure. And finally, she found the woman who would provide the baby.

The Crime

On July 23, 1987, brandishing a fake gun, Pierce kidnapped eight-month pregnant Cindy Lyn Ray from the parking lot of a clinic at the Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ray was returning to her car after having had a prenatal exam inside the clinic.

Pierce drove the two to her home where she was set up to perform the Caesarean operation and steal Ray's baby girl, but as she approached the house, she saw that her husband was home. She then drove to a secluded area up in the Manzano Mountains.

There she strangled Ray with the cord of a fetal monitor which was in Ray's purse. She then dragged her behind bushes and ripped at her abdomen with a car key until she could reach the near-term baby. She bit through the umbilical cord, severing the baby from her semi-conscious mother, who she then left to bleed to death.

More Lies

On her way home Pierce stopped at a car lot and asked to use the phone. Covered with blood, she explained to the employees that she had just had her baby on the side of a highway between there and Santa Fe. An ambulance was called, and Pierce and the baby were taken to the hospital.

The attending physicians became suspicious of Pierce's story when she refused to be examined. Pressing her further, Pierce changed her story. She told them that a surrogate mother had given birth to the child with the help of a midwife in Santa Fe.

The authorities were called, and Pierce was taken into custody.

The Truth is Finally Told

Reports surfaced that there was a missing pregnant woman from the base. Under the pressure of police interrogation, Pierce admitted to what she had done. She showed detectives where she had left Ray, but it was too late. The 23-year-old Cindy Lyn Ray was dead.

Pierce was found guilty-but-mentally-ill of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse and was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

1997 - Pierce Seeks a Retrial

In April 1997 Pierce's new attorney tried to get a new trial on the basis that her previous attorneys failed to follow up on information which could have helped prove Pierce was insane.

Had she been found insane instead of guilty-but-mentally-ill she would have been placed in an institution until a judge determined she was sane enough to be released.

The bid to overturn her conviction was denied.

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Your Citation
Montaldo, Charles. "Darci Pierce and the Murder of Cindy Ray." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-murder-of-cindy-ray-973476. Montaldo, Charles. (2020, August 28). Darci Pierce and the Murder of Cindy Ray. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-murder-of-cindy-ray-973476 Montaldo, Charles. "Darci Pierce and the Murder of Cindy Ray." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-murder-of-cindy-ray-973476 (accessed March 8, 2021).