A Maryland woman faces 20 years in prison after she was charged with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of her newborn babies. Melissa Schrae Bowen, 34, of Prince Frederick, Maryland, drowned her newborns in the toilet because she was unable to afford an abortion.
Last Friday, Bowen attended a court appearance, during which prosecutors offered and she accepted a plea agreement that will net her a total of 20 years in the state penitentiary for the involuntary manslaughter of “Baby Boy A” and “Baby Boy B.” The plea admits the state has sufficient evidence to prosecute but allows the defendant to not admit any guilt.
The criminal indictment indicates the first baby was killed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2007, and the second between Oct. 24, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012. Assistant State’s Attorney Kathryn Marsh said one of the babies was discovered by Bowen’s mother in March 2012, and the other was found in an attic.
A local newspaper has more on the babies’ deaths:
Bowen’s mother placed a 911 call March 8, 2012, after she found a deceased baby boy, with its umbilical cord still attached, in a trash bag in the trunk of her daughter’s car, which she had been cleaning out. Although Bowen — who had hidden both her pregnancies — originally stated that she had miscarried in Oct. 2011 at five months and had not previously known she was pregnant, an autopsy revealed that the baby weighed 6 pounds and that her story could not be true.
There were no medical or scientific reasons why both babies should not have been born alive, Marsh said, and neither tested positive for illicit substances.
On Nov. 16, 2012, Calvert County authorities were alerted that a dead newborn had been found in a suitcase in the attic of a La Plata home, and it was determined that the infant had died in Huntingtown before Bowen brought his body to the home.
During the hearing, Marsh said both infants had been born, alive, into toilets, where their mother, who has a history of substance abuse, made no immediate move to touch them or to clear their airways. In the case of “Baby Boy A,” she eventually submerged him in a bathtub filled with water.
Subsequent conversations with investigators revealed that Bowen did not know who the father of “Baby Boy B” was, that she has continued to drink alcohol and snort cocaine and Percocet for the duration of that pregnancy and that she had known she was pregnant for months prior to delivery but had been unable to afford an abortion.
Bowen also indicated that she knew in her heart that both babies had been born alive, that she was depressed and overwhelmed by the three children she already had and that each baby had lain on his side in the toilet with his nose and mouth submerged before being removed.