NEW BOSTON, Texas — The allegations against a woman accused of kidnapping the unborn child of a woman here earlier this month fit a pattern seen in other instances of the rare crime.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children includes cases colloquially referred to as "fetal abduction" or "cesarean kidnapping" in its statistics for infant abductions. NCMEC lists 327 infant abductions as occurring between 1964 and October 2019, though the exact number of those that involved an attack on a pregnant woman is not specified.
"It is relatively rare for infants to be abducted by strangers. But it does happen. And recent analysis of abduction cases by the FBI suggests there are new and troubling trends for expectant parents to be aware of, including women kidnappers using violence to commit their crimes and social media to target their victims," according to FBI.gov.
According to NCMEC and FBI.gov, infant abductors often fake pregnancies and may fool even those closest to them.
Taylor Parker, aka Taylor Morton, allegedly convinced her boyfriend she was pregnant and the boyfriend reported to police the couple held a gender reveal party in advance of Parker's fictitious Oct. 9 due date, according to a probable-cause affidavit. The boyfriend reported that he expected to meet Parker at a hospital in Idabel, Oklahoma, at noon Oct. 9 for a planned, induced labor and delivery.
Parker, 27, allegedly attacked 21-year-old Reagan Michelle Simmons Hancock the morning of Oct. 9 at Hancock's home in New Boston. A Texas state trooper pulled Taylor over in DeKalb, Texas, not far from the Oklahoma border, just after 9:30 a.m. that morning. Parker allegedly was performing CPR on the infant girl in her lap and the umbilical cord appeared to be coming from her pants. Parker allegedly claimed to have delivered the child roadside.
Neither Hancock nor her baby — identified in court records as Baby Hancock and Braxlynn Sage Hancock — survived. According to a probable-cause affidavit, Reagan Hancock was 34 weeks along, six weeks shy of a full-term pregnancy.
Parker and Reagan Hancock were friends on Facebook and reportedly knew one another.
According to NCMEC, infant abductors are often manipulative with a history of lying and deceit. They are most often women of childbearing age and may have children already. A desire for attention, a desire to provide a partner with a child of their own and a desire to strengthen or keep a tenuous relationship are listed by NCMEC as characteristics seen in infant abductors.
Infant abductors may not be able to conceive because of a hysterectomy, for example, and some pose as health care workers and/or familiarize themselves with medical procedures, practices and facilities, according to NCMEC.
Most infant abductions occur within the community where the abductor lives. Parker and Hancock both resided in Bowie County.
NCMEC reports that as of October 2019, less than 23% of infant abductions involve violence, fewer than 12% result in the death of the infant's mother and just over 3% result in the death of the baby. According to the FBI, increased security in hospital maternity wards means that would-be infant abductors must gain direct contact with their victims.
According to a Wikipedia entry and a 2015 article published in the Guardian, the first documented case of fetal abduction in the U.S. occurred in 1974. Another case was reported in 1987 and another in 1995. Since then there have been reports of mothers being attacked for their unborn babies about once or twice every one to two years in the U.S. The majority of those documented cases involve women acting alone and a fake pregnancy.
Most of the abductors have been sentenced to lengthy or life prison terms. In 2004, a jury sentenced Lisa Montgomery to death for attacking and killing an expectant mother in Missouri and kidnapping her infant. Montgomery met her victim in an online chat room about rat terriers and obtained the victim's address by arranging to buy a dog from her.
After strangling her victim and slicing open her belly, Montgomery drove the infant across state lines.
Montgomery, 52, is currently on federal death row and scheduled for execution Dec. 8, according to an article published Saturday by the Guardian. Montgomery will be the first female federal inmate to die by court order in 67 years.
The FBI warns expectant parents to exercise "caution and common sense" online and advises against displaying "the traditional pink or blue balloons outside their homes announcing a baby shower or a new arrival" as doing so may alert a potential abductor that an infant is in the home or may soon be. The FBI site also encourages people to report odd behavior, such as a suspected phony pregnancy, or "excessive interest" in a pregnancy or newborn by an acquaintance.
Parker is being held in the Bowie County jail in downtown Texarkana with bails totaling $5 million. She is charged with capital murder in Reagan Hancock's death, with murder in the death of baby Braxlynn Hancock and with kidnapping. A felony information filed Thursday by Bowie County First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp in the capital murder case accuses Parker of taking the life of Reagan Hancock in the course of kidnapping Braxlynn Hancock.
If convicted of kidnapping, Parker faces two to 10 years in prison. If found guilty of murder she faces five to 99 years or life. If convicted of capital murder, Parker faces a sentence of life without parole or death.