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Woman Faked a Pregnancy for Months Before Murdering a Mom and Stealing Her Baby
Police said Kimmi Hardy's deceptions went back years, and included faked pregnancies and even fake burials of babies.
In a crime that shocked a small Iowa town, a woman faked her own pregnancy — even going so far as to buy baby clothes and have a baby shower — all before kidnapping a new mother, murdering her, and stealing her baby to pass off as her own.
Kimmi Hardy is now in prison for killing Theresa Lund, and kidnapping her baby, Paul. But in an all-new episode of Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, police said the lies began long before Hardy met Lund.
“Who thinks of faking a pregnancy?” Joni Johnston, a forensic psychologist, said on Snapped. “She was willing to lie to toy with people’s feelings. To create all kinds of scenarios. She was living a lie so often. And the people that she was supposed to be closest to had no idea.”
What happened to Theresa Lund and her infant son, Paul?
A friend called 911 on the morning of August 29, 1996, because she was concerned about Theresa Lund, 34, and her infant son. Lund had failed to pick up her older children from school in Keokuk, Iowa, the day before, and she and her 6-week-old son, Paul, were missing.
“She loved those kids, and that’s not like her,” Heather McVeigh, Lund’s friend, said on Snapped. “You got a dependable person and they disappear — you know something’s wrong.”
Lund was last seen dropping her children off at school on the morning of August 28, 1996. Lund’s mother told police she’d looked for her daughter, and found her car parked near a market. Lund’s purse and checkbook were under the front seat of the car. Paul’s car seat was missing from the vehicle.
Lund had two children from previous relationships, and a daughter with Terry Bell, whom she married in 1990.
“She was very much a very hands-on mom,” Tressa Bell, Lund’s daughter, said on Snapped. “She would play with us, help us with things, shared her love of music with us.”
On July 16, 1996, Lund and Bell had a son, Paul. Bell’s job had moved him to Gary, Indiana, so he spent large amounts of time away from his family, but Lund and the children planned to move and join him.
“Theresa was the happiest I’d seen her the whole time,” McVeigh said. “You know, that new mom look. Four kids—she had her hands full. I know she was tired, but she was very proud of those kids.”
But before the family could move, Lund and Paul went missing. Nothing was missing from the family home. There was no banking activity on any of Lund’s accounts. Terry Bell was ruled out as a suspect in her disappearance, as he was in Indiana working at the time.
How did a tip alert police to investigate Kimmi and Bob Hardy?
Two weeks after Lund and Paul’s disappearance, police were no closer to locating the mother and son. But on September 14, 1996, an anonymous woman called the FBI and told them to look into Kimmi and Robert "Bob" Hardy — a married couple also in Keokuk, Iowa, claiming to be celebrating the birth of their newborn son.
“This baby was born on August 28, the same day that Theresa Lund and her baby went missing,” Bruce McDonald, a former assistant prosecutor, said on Snapped. “They say they’ve just had a baby, but the baby is older than they claim it is. This is not a newborn. Something’s not right here.”
On September 17, Keokuk officers visited the Hardy home. Kimmi Hardy, 36, let police see the baby, and they were immediately suspicious that it was older than a newborn, but they needed more evidence for a search warrant. They spoke to Kimmi Hardy’s sister-in-law.
“She said she was going to have a baby,” Theresa Maness, sister-in-law of Kimmi Hardy, said on Snapped. “She went shopping for baby clothes. She was just happy.”
Maness told police Kimmi had three children with previous partners but had a stillborn baby with her third husband. After Kimmi and Bob Hardy married in 1996, Kimmi soon announced she was pregnant. Maness saw the baby the day Hardy said she’d given birth.
“She had me hold the baby, and I changed the baby’s diaper,” Maness said. “And it had no umbilical cord. And it had only been just born … the baby seemed pretty big for just being a newborn.”
Maness also told police the boy was circumcised and was healed from that procedure, despite the claim he was born the same day. She also reported Kimmi Hardy asked her to sign the birth certificate as a witness, despite the fact that Maness didn’t witness the birth, and Maness refused to sign.
With Maness’ testimony, police got a warrant, and returned to the Hardy home to take the baby for testing at the hospital. But when they arrived, Kimmi and Bob Hardy and the baby were gone.
A neighbor was watching the older children, and police tracked incoming calls to the house, where they were then able to track down the Hardys' new location. When they confronted the Hardys, Bob crumpled up the warrant, and refused to let the police have the baby. After he was arrested, Kimmi agreed to go to the hospital, where workers took the baby’s footprints, and then to the police station.
What did Kimmi Hardy tell police happened to the baby?
At the police station, Kimmi Hardy immediately confessed.
“She just looked at us and said, ‘I’ll tell you straight up, the baby is not mine,’” Kevin Church, a retired Keokuk police detective, said on Snapped.
Hardy claimed she’d bought the baby off an old friend for $3,000, and that two men showed up at her door on August 28 with the baby. She couldn’t provide an address or phone number for the man whom she claimed sold her the baby. She also claimed she didn’t know Theresa Lund.
As a footprint analysis confirmed the baby was the missing Paul Bell and he was returned to his family, police tracked down the neighbor who’d called the FBI with the tip. The tipster said she’d gone with Hardy to buy a gun just weeks before Theresa Lund went missing.
“She was asking the salesperson how close she had to be for this gun to kill them,” Church said. “And whether it would blow their head completely off, or just make a little bit of a mess. The salesperson became so alarmed that they wouldn’t even sell her the gun.”
Police confirmed Hardy did buy a gun at a different pawn shop.
Then, Bob Hardy, already under arrest, made a plea deal, and agreed to tell police the location of Theresa Lund’s body. Officers found Lund decomposing in a ditch by some railroad tracks. She’d been shot in the head.
Bob Hardy also told police he believed his wife was pregnant, and when he received word at work that she’d delivered the baby at home, he rushed home to be with her and the baby. But he said he noticed a foul smell in the home.
“She said, ‘Bob, there’s a body downstairs,’” Church said. “’That’s what that smell is.’ He says, ‘I don’t believe it. I go downstairs and sure enough there’s a body in that crawlspace. I’m freaking out.’”
Bob Hardy said his wife also told him she’d bought the baby from a friend, and that it was up to them to get rid of Lund’s body. He confessed to dumping the body and the gun with his wife.
When did Kimmi Hardy begin lying about her pregnancies?
Wendell Smith, one of Kimmi’s ex-husbands, reached out to police, and confirmed their suspicions that this wasn’t the first time Kimmi lied about being pregnant. One child, whom Kimmi claimed was stillborn, was buried in a cemetery. When police got a warrant to dig up the child’s grave, all they found buried was bubble wrap and a teddy bear. The baby had never existed.
The deception went even further. During Kimmi Hardy’s trial, one of her former doctors testified she underwent a sterilization procedure in 1984 and was no longer able to have children.
“It’s really only after this tubal ligation that she starts manufacturing pregnancies,” Johnston said. “I do think there was some change in her psychologically. She wanted another child, but she couldn’t be pregnant, is what really tipped her over the edge. She’s deceiving. She’s manipulating. And ultimately, she murders somebody.”
Prosecutors painted a picture of what happened to Theresa Lund during the trial. They said Kimmi Hardy befriended Lund, and lured her to her home on the promise of giving her hand-me-down baby clothes. They believed Hardy then shot Lund in the back of the head when she was in the basement crawl space of the Hardy home, looking for baby clothes.
“She has maintained this charade she was pregnant for months,” Johnston said. “I think she has this idea in her head that what would be the ultimate joy would be to produce a son for Bob. At some point, she begins looking for a baby. And then she finds this person.”
Kimmi Hardy was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and child stealing, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“At the end of the day, there’s nothing that anyone can do to her on this Earth that’s really going to make up for what she did,” Tressa Bell said. “My dad loved my mom very, very, very much. When he lost her it changed a piece of him forever.”
Bob Hardy served three years in prison after pleading guilty to interference of official acts and possession of a firearm by a felon. He was released on September 25, 2002.
Watch all new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, and the next day on Peacock.