Texas woman convicted of killing pregnant mother to kidnap baby from her womb

By Malavika Pradeep

Published Oct 4, 2022 at 09:04 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

A Texas woman is facing the death penalty after being found guilty of killing a 21-year-old expectant mother to steal her unborn baby and pass the infant off as her own.

Taylor Rene Parker, 29, was first arrested in Oklahoma for the gruesome murder of Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock and her infant daughter in their New Boston home in October 2020. According to prosecutors, Parker—who had been faking her own pregnancy for nearly ten months—bashed Simmons-Hancock’s skull in with a hammer and stabbed her more than 100 times before removing her unborn baby from her womb using a scalpel.

The Texas woman also reportedly carried out these violent acts while the young mom’s three-year-old daughter was at home.

After the attack, Parker took off with the newborn baby in a car but was quickly pulled over by a Texas State Trooper in De Kalb for speeding. At the time, she told the officer that she had just given birth by the side of the road and that the baby was not breathing. Parker and the infant were then rushed by ambulance to McCurtain Memorial Hospital in Idabel—where hospital staff grew suspicious after the 29-year-old refused to be checked out by doctors.

“She didn’t want them to check her,” Special Agent Chad Dansby told People in 2020. “We were told that, so I talked her into letting the doctor check. They called the doctor and he pretty much told us she didn’t have a baby. It was just a matter of getting her to tell us what happened.”

It was later revealed that Parker—who could not conceive after a hysterectomy—had intensively researched how to fake a pregnancy and watched numerous videos on delivering babies prematurely at 35 weeks, the exact number of weeks Simmons-Hancock had been pregnant with her child.

In fact, Parker had disguised herself to look pregnant, faked ultrasounds, posted maternity pictures on social media and even hosted a gender reveal party for her pretend baby in the months leading up to Simmons-Hanock’s murder.

Texas woman convicted of killing pregnant mother to kidnap baby from her womb

According to prosecutors, Parker crafted the elaborate lie just to keep her boyfriend around and told him that she was due to give birth on the day of the murder. Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp explained to jurors that Parker is “an actress of the highest order” whose scheme even involved a bomb threat to a hospital, in turn, delaying her scheduled induction.

“Parker didn’t want anymore children,” Crisp told the jury. “She killed Reagan and ripped her baby out to keep her boyfriend.” What’s more is that, after the killing, Crisp stated Parker had stuffed Simmons-Hancock’s placenta down her pants to make it look like she had actually given birth on the side of the road.

“In the past two weeks, the evidence has never been more clear,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards further told the jury, as reported by the New York Post. “She’s a liar, a manipulator, and now she’s gonna be held accountable for it.” In her closing statement, Richards also reminded jurors that the young mom was struck in the head at least five times, with such force that the blows compressed her skull into her brain.

“The pain Reagan must have felt when Taylor started cutting her abdomen, hip to hip… indescribable,” Richards said. “When Taylor had the baby and Reagan was still alive, that’s when Taylor started slashing and cutting. She can’t leave her alive. It was no quick death. She just kept cutting her. I guess Reagan would not die fast enough for Taylor to get out of there and get on with her plans.”

Although the baby died at the hospital, Parker’s attorneys argued that she was never alive and moved to dismiss the kidnapping charge, which would have lowered the capital murder charge the 29-year-old stands convicted of. “That’s why in opening statements we spent so much time on definitions. You can’t kidnap a person who has not been born alive,” attorney Jeff Harrelson said in his final argument.

However, several medical professionals have testified that the baby had a heartbeat when she was born. “We have methodically laid out what she [Parker] did, why she did it, all the moving parts, and all the collateral damage. The best evidence the state of Texas has that baby was born alive is that Parker said it wasn’t,” Crisp stated.

Parker’s sentencing trial is scheduled to begin on 12 October 2022. And while prosecutors seek death penalty in the case, jurors may opt for her life imprisonment without parole.

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