Julie Corey, of Massachusetts, killed 23-year-old Darlene Haynes, who was in the eighth month of her pregnancy, and stole her baby. Now she’s been convicted.
In 2009, Haynes’ body was found when her landlord responded to complaints from neighbors. He found her body wrapped in a blanket and shoved in a closet of her apartment. Worcester Police Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst told reporters that the baby girl appeared to be in “fairly good health” upon discovery.
The jury has reached a verdict of guilty in the first degree and Corey burst into tears as the verdict was read — reportedly weeping for several minutes. The verdict carries a life sentence in prison but official sentencing will take place February 18.
The jury in the Julie Corey murder trial Wednesday afternoon asked the judge if they had to believe the defendant physically killed the victim in order to find her guilty of first-degree murder.
Jurors began deliberations Monday afternoon. At 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, they sent the question to Judge Janet Kenton-Walker:
“Does the defendant have to be the person who actually killed Darlene, or is it felony murder if someone else killed Darlene and gave the baby to Julie?”
The prosecution has three theories — elements of the crime — that elevate the killing to first-degree murder: that the murder was premeditated, that it was excessive or cruel, or that it happened during the commission of another felony.
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Jurors must agree with one of the theories in order to convict Corey on first degree murder.
Kenton-Walker told the jury they had to find Corey physically did the killing under the first two theories. Under felony murder, they have to find she committed the underlying act — in this case, kidnapping — and that the victim was killed while she did.
Corey apparently told friends that she had a baby at an unnamed hospital and, after killing Haynes, was showing off the baby as her own.
“Some friends became a little concerned about how she got home so early after just giving birth,” a police official said.
Police said Corey had told acquaintances that she was relocating to New Hampshire and she arrived at a homeless shelter. She told workers at the shelter that she was the baby’s mom, although she was unable to produce any information on the identity of the child.
Corey was arrested when workers took pictures of the baby with their cell phone and notified authorities.
Karl Whitney, Haynes’ uncle, told the Boston Globe after the killing that he was relieved the baby had been found.
“It’s just a miracle that everything worked out as well as it did,” he said. “Right now, it’s the best ending to a very sad and tragic situation.”
“I’m very amazed and happy that the Worcester Police Department were able to react so quickly,” Whitney said.
Roberto C. Rodriguez, the ex-boyfriend of the slain woman and the father of the unborn child, told news agencies at the time before the baby was found that he was devastated by the news and hoped authorities apprehend the assailant quickly and that the baby is found safely.
“Turn yourself in or keep running,” he said. “The Lord is going to catch up to you. Drop the kid off. Drop the kid off at a hospital.”
At the time of the murder, Haynes had three other children, but only her 18-month-old daughter lived with her.
Haynes’ body was found in the closet inside her home in Worcester and her body had decayed to such an extent that investigators had problems identifying even her gender. When they did, they determined Haynes was pregnant and had been murdered and had her uterus cut open, her baby girl stolen.
Haynes’ aunt, Sandra Grandmaison, described her niece as a loving woman who was slow to develop intellectually and never graduated high school. Haynes, she said, already had a name picked out for the baby, but wouldn’t share it, wanting to surprise her family.