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Who was the last woman executed by the US government? Another case with Missouri ties.

Harrison Keegan
Springfield News-Leader

Lisa Montgomery could be the first woman put to death by the federal government in nearly seven decades for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit paved the way for the execution of federal prisoner Lisa Montgomery to take place on Tuesday, less than a day after a federal judge in Indiana granted a stay in her execution over concerns about her deteriorating mental health.

Latest updates:Lisa Montgomery execution uncertain as appeals move forward

A federal jury decided that Montgomery, now 52, should face the ultimate punishment for traveling to Stinnett's home in Skidmore, Missouri, killing Stinnett, cutting the unborn baby out of Stinnett's womb and then traveling back to Kansas with the infant.

More:Scheduled to die for killing pregnant mother, Kansan Lisa Montgomery granted stay one day before execution

Stinnett's baby survived and has grown into a healthy teenager, while Montgomery's attorneys have been trying to spare Montgomery's life with appeals related to her mental health and the abuse she suffered as a child.

If the execution happens as scheduled, Montgomery would be the first woman executed by the federal government since Bonnie Heady in 1953.

‘Let it be done’:Bobbie Jo Stinnett’s hometown waits as killer’s execution date nears

Bonnie Brown Heady is led out of the U.S. Courthouse in November 1953 in Kansas City.

Heady kidnapped Bobby Greenlease, the 6-year-old son of a wealthy Kansas City car dealer, by pretending to be the boy's aunt and picking him up from school at the French Institute of Notre Dame De Sion in September 1953.

A teacher at the school reported that Greenlease left with Heady without hesitation, but the boy would never be seen again.

Authorities believe Heady and her accomplice Carl Hall murdered Greenlease not long after the kidnapping, but they proceeded to send letters to the Greenlease family demanding a $600,000 ransom for the boy's safe return.

Hall and Heady got the money and then split town, heading east to St. Louis.

More:The U.S. has not executed a woman in 67 years. That could change in Terre Haute.

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Authorities believe Hall crossed Heady and abandoned her in a St. Louis hotel with just $2,000 as he ran off with the rest of the money.

More:Lisa Montgomery, a Kansan who cut a baby from a mother's womb, faces execution. Here is her story.

A tip from a taxicab driver helped authorities identify Hall as one of the suspects, and Hall led them to Heady.

Both Hall and Heady eventually confessed to their roles in the kidnapping and murder.

The case moved forward at a much quicker pace than today's criminal justice system would allow.

Hall and Heady pleaded guilty on Oct. 30, 1953, and less than two months later they were killed in the gas chamber at the state penitentiary in Jefferson City.

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More than half of the money was never found, and two St. Louis police officers were indicted for lying about what they did with two suitcases full of cash that Hall had when he was arrested.

The reason the Heady and Montgomery cases were handled in federal court is because they involved crossing state lines. Over the last 68 years, other women have received the death penalty based on different state court sentencings.

Montgomery's execution is one of several that were set for the weeks before President Donald Trump cedes power to President-elect Joe Biden, who is opposed to capital punishment.