by Steven Ertelt
September 25, 2006
E. St. Louis, IL (LifeNews.com) — An Illinois woman stands accused of killing a pregnant mother and cutting her unborn baby from her womb. Prosecutors say 24 year-old Tiffany Hall killed Jimella Tunstall, a 23 year-old who was seven months pregnant at the time, and her three children.
Hall has been charged with both first degree murder, in Tunstall’s death and intentional homicide of an unborn child. Both charges carry prison terms of 20 to 60 years or life in prison and Hall could get the death penalty on the murder charge.
In addition to killing Tunstall, Hall told police she also drowned Tunstall’s three children, ages 7, 2 and 1 and she has not yet been charged in their deaths.
St. Clair County’s State’s Attorney Robert Haida told the Associated Press he would not discuss why Hall allegedly killed Tunstall and her children or why she took the unborn baby from her womb, saying it would reveal facts int he case he needs to be confidential for his prosecution.
On Monday, during at arraignment at the St. Clair County Jail, St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf ordered Hall to have a psychological examination. He also entered not guilty pleas on Hall’s behalf.
He further appointed public defender Randy Kelley as Hall’s attorney, according to an AP report, and granted his request that Hall be separated from other inmates.
Ace Hart, a deputy St. Clair County coroner, confirmed to AP that preliminary autopsies show the children were drowned and their bodies show no signs of abuse or trauma.
Hart said it appeared Tunstall bled to death after her stomach was cut open by a sharp object, possibly scissors. He said she was probably unconscious at the time.
The deaths appear to have occurred on September 15 when Hall summoned police to a local park saying she had given birth to a stillborn child. She wasn’t suspected of killing anyone until she confessed to her boyfriend during the baby’s funeral that the child wasn’t his and that she had killed a woman to obtain the baby.
Authorities found Tunstall’s body on Thursday after her children were reported missing. They did not find them in a first visit to her home because Hall had hidden the bodies in Tunstall’s washer and dryer.
Relatives told AP that Hall and Tunstall grew up together and Tunstall frequently let Hall baby-sit her children. Hall has two other children of her own.
Day Gardner the president off the National Black Pro-Life Union, told LifeNews.com in a statement that she’s glad the state of Illinois has an unborn victims law that allows prosecutors to charge Hall with the crime of killing Tunstall’s unborn baby.
“The horrible killing of the unborn child in this case is easily recognized as a crime," she said.
She said such laws show the humanity of a baby before birth and hoped people would have as much outrage at abortion as they do the death of Tunstall’s baby in this case.
"The authorities in St. Louis have charged the woman involved with intentional homicide of an unborn child," Gardner said. "Therefore, I find it baffling that the killing of unborn children in this country by an abortionist is legally and even socially acceptable.”
In Illinois, the killing of an "unborn child" at any stage of prenatal development is intentional homicide, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.
Some 34 states have laws offering justice for pregnant women and unborn children who are victims of violence and 24 of them protect babies throughout pregnancy.
Hall is being held on a $5 million bond.