Thursday, October 05, 2000

Police: Woman alone in slaying, baby theft

By Amy Beth Graves
The Associated Press

        RAVENNA, Ohio — The abduction and murder of a pregnant woman whose baby was cut from her belly was the lone act of a woman whose suicide leaves several mysteries, police said Wednesday.

        The week-old boy found late Monday in the house of Michelle Bica, 39, remained in good condition at a hospital. Jon Andrews, whose wife, Theresa, was found buried in Ms. Bica's garage, is seeking custody.

        Ravenna Detective Greg Francis said the heavyset Mrs. Bica had convinced her husband that she was pregnant, the baby was theirs and that she had given birth while he was working.

        Mrs. Bica shot herself in the mouth as police arrived to question her a second time in the disappearance of Theresa Andrews, 23, who lived less than half a mile away in this northeast Ohio town of about 12,000 people.

        Since the suicide, investigators have not been able or willing to say:

        • Whether Michelle Bica planned the baby theft or acted impulsively.

        • How she had the ability to perform a crude Caesarean section well enough not to harm the baby.

        • What knife or other instrument she used and whether it was found.

        • How she managed to take the victim's body from her house to her detached garage about 10 feet away in daylight and bury it without anyone knowing.

        Portage County Coroner Roger Marcial said traces of blood found in the Bica house indicate Mrs. Andrews was shot in a first-floor laundry room.

        Mr. Marcial said Mrs. Andrews was shot in the left upper back and killed shortly before the baby was cut out. A .22-caliber bullet, retrieved during an autopsy Tuesday, had penetrated her left lung and her heart, Mr. Marcial said.

        About 100 people gathered Wednesday evening for a memorial service for Theresa Andrews at an area church.

        Meanwhile, Mr. Andrews prepared for the expected release of the child from the hospital this morning.

        Portage County authorities are calling the boy Oscar Andrews but keeping temporary custody until blood samples from Jon Andrews and the baby are analyzed to confirm a genetic match. Results are expected Friday.

        Mr. Marcial said a tissue sample also was taken from Theresa Andrews during her autopsy for use in helping in the identification of her as the mother of the baby.

        The coroner confirmed that Mrs. Bica had not been pregnant, and said she left no explanation of the deception.

        “There was no suicide note or anything like that,” Mr. Marcial said.

        A series of cellular phone calls to the Andrews' house led police to Mrs. Bica. On the day she disappeared, Mrs. Andrews had paged her husband at work to tell him a woman had called inquiring about a 1999 Jeep Wrangler they were trying to sell. Police found the Jeep keys in Mrs. Bica's purse.

        Police won't know whether the same gun was used in the suicide and murder until after a Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation analysis, Francis said.

        “Right now we have no other evidence that would link any other parties to this crime,” Mr. Francis said. “Right now our belief is that she did this acting alone. We found no notes or any sort of communication from her indicating she had pre-planned this.”

        Mr. Francis said Wednesday that investigators believe Mrs. Bica's husband, Thomas Bica, was misled.

        “He indicated during his interview that the whole time he had believed that his wife and he conceived about nine months ago with a September due date and that he believed his wife had given birth Wednesday, Sept. 27, and had brought the baby home,” Francis said.

        She had told a neighbor she delivered in an ambulance.

        Francis said that on Wednesday when the slaying probably happened, Thomas Bica was at his job at the Portage County jail as a corrections officer. He met his wife in 1994 as she served a jail sentence for receiving stolen property, Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said.


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