On Monday, 17-year-old Jessica Brewster (right) was arrested after the body of her newborn baby was found partially buried in the dirt behind a senior residence. Authorities say it is likely that the child was abandoned in October and was exposed to the elements. According to Fox17 News, Brewster acted alone and “readily admitted” to her connection with her child’s death. Brewster is a senior at Muskegon Public School in Michigan.
The infant was found by the janitorial staff at the complex and may have been completely buried at one point but because of wind and rain the baby gradually became visible. The exact reason for the child’s death is not yet known; however, Brewster is being held on murder charges and could be tried as an adult.
Arleen Clements, the janitor who found the baby’s body said, “I just opened the door and looked down and saw it. My mind told me it wasn’t a baby. I looked down closer to it. ‘I saw a little leg and little toes. I stood there thinking, ‘Am I seeing what I’m seeing? Could it be a doll baby?'”
However, she quickly realized it was not a doll. She said, “A doll doesn’t have little wrinkles on its toe like that. I just knew it was a baby then.”
Infanticide cases like this are preventable because Michigan’s safe-haven law decriminalizes leaving unharmed infants with the proper authorities. Locations that are considered safe are police stations, hospitals, firehouses and rescue squads. These statues were designed to protect innocent infants from abandonment while simultaneously protecting the lives of their mothers. But tragically, many babies are still unsafely abandoned because women do not realize they have another option.
Regan Self, a 16-year-old advocate for the group shared more about safe haven laws. She said. “Our mission is to spread the word about the law. Personally if I was in this position it’s really hard to think about how panicked I would be if there wasn’t an outlet or a way out so basically what I’m trying to show is there is a way out and you don’t have to panic.”
Unfortunately, in the past four months there have been two reports of infant abandonment resulting in death in West Michigan. And nationwide there have been two cases in the past week.
The first safe-haven law was enacted in Texas in 1999 and now all 50 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia, have passed safe-haven legislation. According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, these laws have saved over 1,000 infants in the past decade.