Legislation Mandating FBI Investigation of Murder of Pregnant Women
- A pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause.
- Twenty percent of women who died during pregnancy had been murdered, according to studies in Maryland; Cook County, Illinois; and New York City. (Journal of the American Medical Association, March 2001)
- 1,367 maternal homicides were reported nationwide over a recent 14-year period. (Washington Post, “Many New or Expectant Mothers Die Violent Deaths,” December 2004)
- Pregnant women may be dying at a much greater rate than we know—only 17 states record whether a woman was pregnant at the time of death. (ABC News, “Why Pregnant Women Become Murder Victims,” April 2004)
- The lack of reliable numbers on murders of pregnant women and mothers is “embarrassing. … You can’t reduce them. You can’t prevent them. In essence, they don’t exist.” (Judith McFarlane, Texas Woman’s University, Washington Post, “Many New or Expectant Mothers Die Violent Deaths,” December 2004)
My sister, Kristine Kupka, was 5 months pregnant when she disappeared on October 24, 1998, in Brooklyn, New York. The father of her baby, Darshanand “Rudy” Persaud, killed her and hid her body. She has not been found, and Mr. Persaud has not been charged. She’s just one of many women who “don’t exist,” and that’s not fair or right. These women are loved and missed every day while nothing changes.
For the past ten years, I have pursued every possible avenue for resolving my sister’s case. I recently met with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who were interested in the case but explained that it is not within their jurisdiction. We must create legislation to mandate that the FBI investigate cases of murdered pregnant women immediately. The statistics above make clear: foul play is so common in these cases that to neglect to look for it is to pay a grave disservice to these women’s families and their need for justice and resolution.
Murder during pregnancy is all too often perpetrated by a husband or partner and very much related to the pregnancy. “In some cases, the woman has been abused for years, and the violence escalates to murder after she’s pregnant,” writes Kim Curtis (Associated Press, April 23, 2003, “Murder: The Leading Cause of Death for Pregnant Women”). In other cases, the father does not want the child to be born for financial reasons and is willing to commit murder to stop it (ABC News, April 25, 2003, “Why Pregnant Women Become Murder Victims”). Some of the murdered women have been found, and some are still missing, like my sister. Many of the men have not been charged, due to lack of evidence—evidence that an FBI investigation could reveal.
I am asking that your help in introducing and passing legislation requiring the FBI to investigate missing and/or murdered pregnant women in the name of my sister, Kristine Kupka. Below are some of my thoughts regarding the need for this law:
1. Women have a right to decide whether to have a baby or not. If they are murdered for exercising that right, their civil rights have been violated and they are being discriminated against based on their sex.
2. FBI investigations bring the special resources needed to resolve these cases:
a. Perpetrators know that hiding a body, if successful, is a sure way to avoid an arrest. Police forces often prioritize cases in which evidence has been presented, rather than acting immediately to locate a body. Missing-woman cases are rarely taken seriously (my sister’s was ignored until it received media attention). The FBI would be better equipped to determine the need for investigation and treat these cases with the urgency required for successful resolution.
b. Many small-town police forces have limited budgets, technology, and training and are not equipped for the complexities of investigations when the victim’s body is hidden or destroyed. The FBI is equipped to investigate these cases.
c. Small-town police may be related to or friends with one or more of the parties involved, causing a conflict of interest similar to that found in some domestic abuse cases. Federal investigators are less likely to have such conflicts.
d. Perpetrators are likely to cross county and state lines to escape detection. The FBI’s would be better positioned than local police officials to track down these murderers.
3. Perpetrators of maternal homicide may repeat this crime if they are not apprehended. Men who choose to resolve an unwanted pregnancy through murder could easily find themselves facing another unwanted pregnancy. Men who are habitually violent against their partners could easily impregnate a subsequent partner and repeat the crime. In addition, perpetrators of this crime can be sociopaths who seek pregnant victims.
4. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, murder of a pregnant woman could be viewed as a double homicide.
Maternal homicide is an issue that causes anguish to families and individuals in every community. Policymakers of all parties and persuasions would have ample reason to support this legislation.
Please contact me at the above number at your earliest convenience to discuss this proposal. I would deeply appreciate the opportunity to work with you or your staff to resolve these cases on behalf of my sister, Kristine Kupka, other murdered pregnant women, and their families and loved ones.