A 16-year-old Shorewood girl is facing a criminal charge in Milwaukee County Children's Court after being accused of burying her dead newborn in a shallow grave in a flower bed on the side of the family's home.
Shorewood police say the girl gave birth to a full-term baby boy in her bathtub, stashed the infant's body in her nightstand in her bedroom for at least a week, and eventually put the body into plastic bags and placed it in a hole in the flower bed.
The girl appeared in court Thursday morning. During the brief hearing a trial date was set for Feb. 20. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6.
The girl told police that she believed the infant was dead at birth, but the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office could not determine whether the baby was alive or deceased after birth. The medical examiner also was unable to determine the cause of death because the corpse was decomposed.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office would not comment on the case because it involves a juvenile. The office also would not disclose the charge the girl faces, but the police report said the girl, who is not being named because she is a juvenile, was charged in November with concealing the death of a child.
Shorewood police would not comment on the case, but a 57-page police report released this week provides details on the incident and subsequent investigation. Shorewood Patch requested a copy of the report after receiving a tip about the incident. Patch is reporting on this case because of the rarity of this type of incident in the community.
Girl's Mom Found Body While Take Out Recyclables
According to the report:
Shorewood police officers and an investigator from the medical examiner's office arrived at the family's home on Sept. 15 in response to a call from the girl's mother, who allegedly found the grave and the baby's body when she was taking out the recyclables.
The mother told investigators that a foul odor outside her house led her to find a mound of dirt. She dug up the dirt to find plastic bags containing the baby's remains, she told police. She then went back inside to get some rubber gloves, at which time her daughter told her that it was her baby inside the bags.
During an interview that evening, the girl told police she believed she was five or six months pregnant when she had the baby on Aug. 17. However, she said she never knew that she was pregnant and continued to exercise regularly and participate in extracurricular activities at .
In a follow-up interview on Sept. 20, the girl described to police investigators in detail the events leading up to and after giving birth. According to the girl, on Aug. 16 she threw up, had diarrhea and experienced back pain. She took Tylenol and used a heating pad for the pain. The next day she was still feeling sick and took a bath in the middle of the afternoon, she told police. She was home alone at the time.
"She stated that her back hurt really bad and it felt like she had to use the bathroom, but her back hurt too bad to get out of the bathtub," the report said "(She) stated the baby just came out. The baby was face up, floating in the water. The baby's eyes were closed and it did not move. (Her) first thoughts were that the baby was dead. The baby was blue around the head and chest area."
Teen Says She Tried to Perform CPR
She told police she placed the baby on the bathroom rug and used her cell phone to look online for instructions on how to cut the umbilical cord. She grabbed a pair of scissors and "just went for it," stating that she did not want to hurt the baby. She then wrapped a towel around her body and retrieved a shoebox, she told police. After putting the baby in the shoebox, she checked for a pulse and attempted to do CPR.
"The baby did not move. (She) stated she began pacing. She didn't know what to do. She then went back to the baby, closed the box and put it in her room," the report said. "(She) stated, 'I kinda put it out of sight, out of mind. Like, if I ignore it, it will just go away.' (She) stated she put the baby in her nightstand in the bottom drawer."
After leaving the baby in the nightstand for a week, the girl began smelling the odor from the corpse. Her mother also began complaining about the strange odor from her room. At that point, she told investigators that she "kinda freaked out."
In her panic, the girl woke up early one morning, about a week after giving birth, went outside and dug a 1-foot-deep hole in a flower bed next to the home and placed the box in the hole.
"It's like the only thing I could think of doing," she told investigators.
She returned to her bedroom where she eventually cleaned the nightstand with bleach. Her mother, because of the smell, subsequently threw the nightstand out, the report indicates.
Worried About Her Reputation
The girl told police during the Sept. 20 interview that the reason she did not tell anyone about the birth was because she was worried about her reputation and her mom's reputation. She earlier told police that she had sex three times in November and December 2010 with a 17-year-old Whitefish Bay boy she was seeing.
DNA testing later confirmed that boy was the infant's father.
"She was most worried about disappointing her mom," the report indicates.
In addition, she told investigators that she believed that she was in trouble because of how she handled the situation. She added that she regretted her decision and realized that "people may think she was trying to hide something."
She also indicated to investigators that the father's reputation was another reason why she kept the birth a secret.
On Dec. 13, Shorewood police took the infant's father into custody. He told police at that time he was unaware that she was pregnant. In addition, he told police that the last time they had intercourse about four to six times with the last time at least 14 months ago.
A week after the interview with the father, Assistant District Attorney Paul Tiffin informed Shorewood police that he was not charging the boy with sexual assault of a minor, according to the police report.