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Originally published Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Woman arrested after baby is cut out of victim's womb

A 23-year-old Kennewick woman is accused of stabbing to death a pregnant Pasco woman and then cutting her unborn child out of her womb and trying to pass the baby off as her own.

Tri-City Herald

KENNEWICK — A 23-year-old Kennewick woman is accused of stabbing to death a pregnant Pasco woman and then cutting her unborn child out of her womb and trying to pass the baby off as her own.

Blue mechanic's gloves soaked in blood, a box cutter, bloody paper towels, a baby bottle and a mucus bulb are among items suspected of being used to kill Araceli Camacho Gomez and steal her nearly full-term baby.

Details of the slaying were revealed Monday afternoon when Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong made a preliminary appearance in Benton County Superior Court. She was ordered held without bail in the Benton County Jail on suspicion of aggravated first-degree murder.

Camacho Gomez was found dead in Columbia Park about 1 a.m. Saturday with her hands and feet bound by yarn and "massive trauma to her stomach area," court documents said. The 27-year-old, who was about 8 ½ months pregnant, was stabbed multiple times in the chest.

The infant boy was recovered about two hours earlier and is on life support in critical condition at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg.

Sisouvanh Synhavong, who was arrested late Friday, is expected to be arraigned this morning. If convicted she faces life in prison without parole, or prosecutors could seek the death penalty.

Defense attorney Christopher Swaby was appointed by Judge Robert Swisher to represent Sisouvanh Synhavong on an interim basis until an attorney approved to handle death-penalty cases can be found.

Prosecutor Andy Miller has 30 days to decide if he'll seek the death penalty.

Few details about Friday's slaying have been released by officials since Camacho Gomez's body was found.

Court documents, however, reveal a partial timeline of the events from late Friday.

Sisouvanh Synhavong called 911 emergency dispatch at 11:04 p.m. saying she was by JC Penney and had just given birth but thought the baby had died.

The call ended, but dispatchers traced it to the area of Columbia Park Trail and Edison Street. Seven minutes later the defendant called again, and the call was traced to Kellogg Street and Metaline Avenue.

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Trail of blood

Kennewick police and firefighters went to the general area and found Sisouvanh Synhavong in the WorkSource parking lot. Fire Capt. Mikal Barnett pulled the baby from the driver's-side rear door.

Officer Ryan Kelly saw Sisouvanh Synhavong in the back seat repeatedly asking "Is my baby OK?" She was holding what appeared to be an umbilical cord and was wearing only a shirt — she had no pants or underwear on, documents said.

A "significant amount of blood and pieces of human tissue" were found in the back seat, documents said. The defendant and the baby were taken to Kennewick General Hospital, where medical tests showed she had not recently given birth.

Camacho Gomez was found in the same area of Columbia Park where dispatchers traced Sisouvanh Synhavong's first 911 call.

Court documents said officers found the blood-soaked mechanic's gloves, box cutter, bloody paper towels, yarn, latex gloves, mucus bulb, baby bottle and baby socks in Sisouvanh Synhavong's purse.

Officials wouldn't say whether the box cutter was used to stab or cut the victim.

An autopsy showed Camacho Gomez died of loss of blood, primarily from four stab wounds to her chest, Corson said. Cuts in her uterus also were consistent with the body being cut to remove an unborn child, court documents said.

It's unclear whether Camacho Gomez was killed before her baby was cut from her womb or she still was alive at the time, Corson said. He is working to narrow down an exact time of death.

Officials also wouldn't say how the two became acquainted or whether Camacho Gomez was killed in the park or her body taken there.

Camacho Gomez's family reportedly realized she was missing about 10 p.m. Friday. Friends of the family told the Tri-City Herald on Sunday that a woman, believed to be the suspect, met Camacho Gomez on a bus Friday and offered to give her some baby clothes.

Tracing movements

Camacho Gomez's husband, Juan Campos Felipe, said he last saw his wife about 6 p.m. Friday when he took their two children to the grocery. When they returned home about 9 p.m., the front door was open and she was gone.

Their oldest son, Carlos, said a woman had picked them up at a bus stop earlier in the day and gave them a ride to Griggs Department Store. The 10-year-old said his mother told the woman she had two more weeks until the baby boy was due, and the woman said she had baby clothes for a boy.

Camacho Gomez gave the woman her address and phone number, the family friends said.

Little is known about Sisouvanh Synhavong. She does not have a criminal history, officials said.

Sisouvanh Synhavong is a 2004 graduate of Kennewick's Southridge High School and was on the school's honor roll in 2001.

She was married May 14 to Keun Synhavong, 35. Their marriage certificate was filed with the Benton County Auditor's Office on May 19.

Five family members attended Monday's court hearing as Sisouvanh Synhavong appeared. She only spoke to pronounce her name for the judge and to confirm that she understood her rights.

Sisouvanh Synhavong might be a Laotian citizen, Miller said, adding that the Laos consulate has been notified.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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