On May 16, 1975, Norma Jean Armistead, a nurse at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, California, entered the same hospital carrying a newborn baby that she claimed was hers. Armistead insisted that she had delivered the infant at her home. Her fellow employees were aware that Armistead had a pregnancy listed on her medical records, but they were shocked that she had claimed to give birth at the age of 44 years.
Medically, Armistead’s chances for delivering a healthy newborn were slim considering her age. So, something was ‘cooking.’ To the employee’s surprise, physical examinations showed no signs that she was responsible for the baby. The examining doctors were able to confirm that Armistead had not given birth.
In late September, the previous year, a young woman named Mary Childs had visited the hospital to give birth. Armistead worked at the hospital, and she had been assigned to administer drugs to the expectant woman. Armistead illegally administered non-prescription drugs to the young lady. When Childs woke from her sleep, she felt something was terribly wrong with her. Childs could not control her body parts, and he mind felt fuzzy while her belly was flat.
When Childs woke up, she could see Armistead and several other doctors surrounding her bed. Childs overhead Armistead narrating that she had found her with a stillborn baby. Childs went hysterical when news hit her. She was already drug-induced and confused.
The doctors were surprised to find excessive quantities of non-prescription narcotics in Childs system. Childs denied taking the drugs, but medical professionals assumed she was merely denying. Since Armistead was a nurse, she had access to the drugs; she also had access to the morgue where she located a baby’s lifeless body. She would later show the dead infant to Childs.
The next year, on May 16, 1975, Hospital officials became suspicious and called the authorities after Armistead checked herself into the hospital claiming to have delivered a healthy newborn.
The mystery was only solved when a 28-year-old woman, Kathryn Viramontes, was found dead in her Van Nuys apartment. Kathryn was nearing her due date, and the baby she was carrying was missing. Kathryn’s baby had been cut from her womb. The circumstances surrounding the events made it difficult to understand what was happening. Doctors pieced the evidence together and discovered that Armistead had killed Kathryn and taken her baby. Armistead was arrested for murder.
After investigations, it was revealed that Armistead had planned the bizarre and horrific crime nine months in advance. In October 1974, Armistead had managed to create a false report about her pregnancy in the hospital’s medical records. The next year, in May, she again used the hospital’s medical records to find a woman who was scheduled to deliver. Armistead identified her victim, who was Kathryn Viramontes, and went to her apartment. She stabbed her to death before cutting the baby from her womb. She then claimed she was the mother of the newborn. It was also discovered that Armistead had stolen Childs infant, who was now eight months old.
It seems Armistead had become worried that her marriage was falling apart due to her inability to bear a child. Armistead had been living with her husband, Charles Armistead, and she had not been successful in her attempts to get pregnant. Just like many other women who are convinced that a child is the only source of happiness, Armistead decided to commit these bizarre crimes, but she was not successful. Her position as an obstetric nurse gave her an opportunity to execute these crimes. Child’s baby was returned to Childs while Kathryn’s baby was taken to the father.
During her trial, Armistead pleaded insanity, but she was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life incarceration.