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Crime News Snapped

Woman Kills New Mom and Kidnaps Her 10-Day-Old Baby to Pass Off as Her Own

Betty Kirk's suspicious friends reported their fears she was a murderer and kidnapper to police, with one saying on Snapped, “The hair stood up on the back of my neck,” after meeting Betty’s alleged newborn.

By Caitlin Schunn

Betty Kirk was known as someone who loved children. She volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader, and the 31-year-old Florida woman even dressed up as a lovable clown at children’s birthday parties and at the mall.

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In fact, it was at a fateful performance that she met Sharon Parker and painted the faces of her twin boys. Kirk turned her eye to Parker’s growing belly and began planning the murder and kidnapping that would destroy Parker’s family.

“At that point, [Betty Kirk] had told people that she was pregnant. Friends. Family,” Jim Nygaard, retired Lee County Sheriff’s Investigator, said on Snapped, airing at 6/5c on Sundays on Oxygen. “And it was time to either confess that she wasn’t telling the truth or get a baby. She chose the latter.”

Sharon Parker's children found her murdered and their newborn sister missing

Six-year-old twins, Jacob and Joshua Parker, hopped off the school bus and came home from school on March 29, 1990 to a horrific nightmare in their Lehigh Acres home, near Ft. Myers, Florida. Their mother, 33-year-old Sharon Parker, was slumped over in a reclining chair and their 10-day-old sister, Julie, was missing.

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“I thought she was asleep at first,” Joshua Parker, Sharon’s son, recalled on Snapped. “That’s when I noticed the pool of blood on the floor. Then I noticed the gunshot wound to her head.”

Sharon Parker featured in Snapped season 5 episode 33

Panicked and unsure what to do, the twins went back outside and waited for their 14-year-old half-sister, Heather, to get off the school bus. When Heather arrived home, she called 911 and took her brothers to their babysitter’s house to wait for police.

Gary Parker, Sharon’s husband, told police the only thing missing from the home, other than his daughter, was a wall banner announcing her birth that read, “It’s A Girl.” There was no forced entry, and nothing else seemed out of place. Police immediately used a helicopter and every available officer in the area to search for the missing newborn.

A tip leads police to Betty Kirk and the missing baby

A neighbor reported seeing a suspicious vehicle around 9:45 that morning: a faded, red, hatchback vehicle. She also reported a woman with dark hair going inside the Parker home.

But it was a tip from a Perkins restaurant employee that made Betty Kirk the main suspect in the murder and abduction of the baby. Peggy Mason told police her co-worker’s wife had claimed to have just had a baby, but something was off.

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“I was looking at the baby,” Peggy Mason recalled about meeting the newborn on Snapped. “I could tell that Betty had shaved her head.”

But there was more. Betty Kirk and her husband, Craig, had announced the pregnancy in the summer of 1989, even buying clothes and a crib.

“Once they told us that she was pregnant, I started the count,” Mason said. “And where every woman will go 40 weeks for pregnancy, Betty Ann was at 43. It just kept going.”

All of Craig Kirk’s co-workers were suspicious of the pregnancy.

“She didn’t gain too much weight,” Lauren Samples, a crime reporter, said on Snapped. “Her belly didn’t pop out the way a pregnant belly would.”

Betty Kirk also drove a red Subaru, which matched the suspicious vehicle connected to Julie Parker’s kidnapping. March 29, the same day as the murder and kidnapping, Betty and Craig coincidentally announced they had a newborn daughter, Laura.  

When police visited the Kirk home, Craig Kirk maintained that his wife had just delivered the baby, but he and Betty were unable to produce the birth certificate. Betty’s delivery story also immediately fell apart.

“Betty Kirk gave the explanation that she had the baby at the health department on Michigan Avenue,” Les Partington, ret. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Major, said on Snapped. “We knew that the health department on Michigan Avenue doesn’t deliver babies.”

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A check of every nearby hospital and clinic showed that Betty Kirk hadn’t given birth in the area. When police asked to see the infant, she also looked older than expected.

Betty Kirk featured in Snapped season 5 episode 33

“It obviously wasn’t born the day before yesterday,” Jack Schell, retired Lee County Sheriff’s Sergeant, said on Snapped.

Unable to prove the baby did not belong to the Kirks, police decided to observe the home. When Betty tried to leave her home around 10 or 11 that night, police stopped her and she agreed to go for questioning.

Police found Craig Kirk intoxicated in the home with the child, prompting Child Protective Services to take the child to a hospital to be examined and identified.

Betty Kirk admits to knowing and befriending Sharon Parker

During a police interview, Betty Kirk admitted that she’d met Sharon Parker at a shopping mall while dressed as a clown.

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“Betty claims that the two women are actually friends … and the two women had bonded because Betty had told Sharon she was also pregnant,” Samples said.

Betty claimed after she saw Julie Parker’s birth announcement in the newspaper, she decided to congratulate Sharon in person, and went to her home on March 29. Betty Kirk then claimed she’d accidentally shot Sharon with the gun she kept in her purse for protection.

“When it went off and hit Sharon, she panicked and just grabbed the baby and fled,” Samples said.

But forensics investigators said that version of events didn’t match how Sharon Parker was killed. A search of Betty’s car also revealed the missing “It’s A Girl” banner — as well as some far more disturbing discoveries.

“There was some clothing, and little trinkets and stuff that were gifted to my mother from her baby showers,” Heather Cook, daughter of Sharon Parker, said on Snapped.

Police also found a stack of newspapers with birth announcements circled in Betty’s vehicle.

“It appeared to have five or six different births circled … it looked as if she might have been shopping for a baby,” Schell said.

Sharon Parker was among the circled names.

“One of these women told investigators that Betty Kirk did show up at her house claiming to be a healthcare worker,” Samples said. “Investigators believed Betty was going to just keep going down the list until somebody with a baby let her in the house.”

Police discovered Betty Kirk had in fact gotten pregnant in the summer of 1989, but had miscarried her child in December 1989, a devastating blow to Betty’s marriage with her husband that made her desperate to produce a child.

“Craig and Betty weren’t getting along,” Mason said. “And he told her he was thinking about leaving her. There was always fighting. They never had money … she was trying to get pregnant to entrap Craig to stay in their relationship.”

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Betty Kirk was charged with first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison during a plea bargain, and will be eligible for parole in 2062, when she’s 103 years old.

Craig Kirk was never charged in connection to the kidnapping or murder.

“This lady didn’t just steal my mom, she stole my joy,” Joshua Parker said.

Betty Kirk’s actions also deprived Sharon Parker’s daughter of ever knowing her mother.

“For a lot of my childhood I felt very guilty,” Julie Parker said on Snapped. “Like if I weren’t born, that wouldn’t have happened, and she’d still be here. All my siblings would still have my mother. All I ever heard is what a great person she was. What a great specifically mother she was — that her passion in life was her children.”

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