July 23, 2008

Sister-in-Law Didn’t Believe ‘Pregnancy’

By Carl Prine, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jul. 23--Andrea Curry-Demus waddled around her apartment wearing a faux womb. She arranged telephone calls from doctors to convince her husband she was pregnant.

And she held a baby shower for a son detectives believe she never birthed, according to a sister-in-law who suspected she was a dangerous fraud.

Curry-Demus, 38, of Wilkinsburg is being held without bond at the Allegheny County Jail on homicide, kidnapping and other charges related to the abduction and slaying of Kia Johnson, 18, of McKeesport, whose baby boy was cut from her womb.

Johnson's decomposing body was discovered Friday in Curry-Demus' apartment, capping a four-day search for the missing woman, who was in her 36th week of pregnancy.

Authorities believe Johnson was last seen alive about 2 p.m. on July 15 in the waiting room of the jail. According to court records, Curry-Demus was visiting husband Raymond Demus, 40, of Wilkinsburg, in jail accused of rape; Johnson was there to see Terrel Barnes, 19, of McKeesport, accused of robbery and burglary, who is believed to be the newborn's father.

Curry-Demus faces a preliminary hearing at 10 a.m. Friday and will plead not guilty, said defense attorney Angela Carsia.

"Everyone deserves a vigorous defense," Carsia said.

Stephanie Demus-Epps of Lawrenceville said she didn't believe her sister-in-law was pregnant and sidled up to her June 28 during a baby shower at the Wilkinsburg apartment. She pressed Curry-Demus' belly and felt padding under the blouse.

"I pinched her stomach and she didn't even feel anything," Demus-Epps said.

"I kept telling people in my family that she wasn't pregnant. We had been told she couldn't even have children, but in November she started telling us she was pregnant. I kept saying, 'Something ain't right about this.' "

Curry-Demus had been convicted in 1991 of plotting to steal an infant from a mother at knifepoint. Probation documents paint a lurid tale of attempts at baby-stealing, shoplifting, domestic violence, consorting with fugitives, lying to police and mental illness.

On Sept. 28, she married Raymond Demus, who is Demus-Epps' brother.

In November, Curry-Demus told her family and his that she was pregnant. On March 14, a judge issued a warrant for the arrest of her husband on charges that he repeatedly raped a child over many years. He was arrested June 20.

Curry-Demus hosted the baby shower eight days later. She had asked relatives to prepare for a boy, even asking specifically for gifts befitting a newborn son, according to Demus-Epps.

Demus-Epps said she told Wilkinsburg police that she believes Curry-Demus met Johnson in the jail waiting room. She didn't know whether Curry-Demus was stalking another woman, or whether she specifically tracked Johnson, who was due to give birth on July 30.

"She had a victim in mind," Demus-Epps said.

Police said they believe Curry-Demus cut the baby from Johnson's womb and took the breathing boy to her sister, Brooke Curry, who lives in an apartment across the hall. Her sister summoned an ambulance. Demus-Epps said she received a telephone call shortly afterward from Curry-Demus saying she was going into labor.

"She was really calm. For a woman in labor, why would she have been that calm? I think she called me first to shut me up. She knew I was on to her and that I would talk to police," Demus-Epps said.

Her sister-in-law telephoned her again from West Penn Hospital, where she claimed to have given birth. Demus-Epps said she also talked to Curry, who reported her sister had delivered a child weighing 7 pounds.

"We have no medical evidence at all that would support her contention that she was pregnant," said Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt.

Demus-Epps visited the jail Thursday afternoon to tell Raymond Demus about his wife's arrest. He never knew that his wife had been convicted of trying to steal babies before and was convinced she really was pregnant, she said.

"I told him, 'How sure are you that she's pregnant?' He couldn't believe it," Demus-Epps said.


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