Pregnant Attack Victim Improving, Baby Delivered

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A mother whose abdomen was slashed by a neighbor allegedly trying to steal her baby was improving in a hospital on Friday, police said.

The baby -- born by emergency Caesarean section -- was fine, state police said.

Valerie Oskin, 30, was believed to have been eight months pregnant when neighbor Peggy Joe Conner allegedly clubbed her with a bat and slashed her with a knife on Wednesday.

Conner, 38, had a bassinet and a baby swing waiting at her home, police say.

Conner was arraigned Thursday on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault and jailed without bail.

"Clearly, she was expecting a child coming in shortly," prosecutor Scott Andreassi said. "There's nothing to indicate she was pregnant."

The attack Wednesday was stopped before her baby was taken because a teenager on an all-terrain vehicle came across the women, police said.

State police said Friday that doctor's expected to removed Oskin's breathing tube.

"She's coming around," said Lt. Thomas Dubovi.

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."

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.

The prosecutor could not explain why it took so long for the boy and his father, who were not identified, to alert authorities.

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