PITTSBURGH (AP) – A woman clubbed her pregnant neighbor over the head with a baseball bat, drove her to the woods and cut her belly with a knife in an attempt to steal her baby, police say.

Police said Wednesday’s attack on Valerie Oskin was stopped before her baby was taken after a teenager on an all-terrain vehicle came across the women.

Oskin, 30, later underwent an emergency Caesarean section at a hospital. State police Thursday said she was in critical condition and her baby in stable condition. She was believed to have been eight months pregnant, authorities said.

Peggy Jo Conner, 38, of Ford City, was arraigned Thursday on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault and was jailed without bail.

“It would appear from the defendant’s statement that her goal was to get the victim’s unborn child and take it as her own,” District Attorney Scott Andreassi said in a statement.

Investigators found a bassinet, a baby swing and other baby-related items in her trailer, authorities said.

“Clearly, she was expecting a child coming in shortly,” Andreassi said. “There’s nothing to indicate she was pregnant.”

Thomas Wilks, who says he is Conner’s husband but is separated from her, called the allegations against her “impossible” and said she truly was pregnant.

“I got a sonogram saying she is pregnant,” Wilks told reporters. “I felt the baby kick in her stomach.” He added that Conner is the mother of three children, ages 16, 14 and 11.

Conner and Oskin had a “close friendship,” Wilks said. “It was getting closer as the days went by. They were pregnant together. They were helping each other out.”

Struck with bat

The assault began Wednesday morning, when Conner hit Oskin several times with a bat, Andreassi said. Conner then put Oskin and Oskin’s 7-year-old son in her car, dropped the boy off at a family member’s house and drove the pregnant woman about 15 miles to a secluded area about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Andreassi said.

There, Conner cut Oskin about six to eight inches across her abdomen with a razor knife, authorities said.

“She was sliced over an old (Caesarean) scar and severely bleeding,” Trooper Jonathan Bayer said.

A 17-year-old boy on an ATV spotted Conner kneeling next to the pregnant woman on the ground, Bayer said. “The accused said they didn’t need any help and everything was OK,” he said.

Andreassi said the teen saw the women about 5 p.m. and drove home to tell his father, who returned with him to the scene and found Conner and Oskin still there. The father and son left and at about 7 p.m. called police, who arrived a short time later and arrested Conner.

Andreassi could not explain why Conner remained at the scene for two hours even after she was spotted, or why it took so long for the boy and his father, who were not identified, to alert authorities.

Bayer, however, said Oskin “probably would have bled to death if this young boy had not discovered her when he did.”

A call to Conner’s home went unanswered Thursday afternoon. State police said they did not know if she had a lawyer.

Last December, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, was strangled at her Missouri home, and her baby was cut from her womb. Prosecutors said Lisa Montgomery showed the baby off as her own before her arrest. She is awaiting trial.

AP-ES-10-13-05 2035EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.