In an incredibly disturbing story, a student from the University of Illinois is being accused of secretly giving birth and killing her newborn baby in a residence hall bathroom by suffocating him to death.
The Chicago Tribune reports the murderer suspect, Lindsay L. Johnson, 20, was charged with first-degree murder, child endangerment and concealment of a homicidal death on Monday.
One of Johnson’s friends said it is hard for something like this to happen to a person you know. He said Johnson appeared to have gained weight recently, but he did not think much of it since she often dressed in baggy sweatpants.
Prosecutors for the case allege that police found Johnson wearing a backpack with her deceased baby inside, according to the report. Officers initially were called to the scene in March after a student reported that they heard the sounds of a baby crying and Johnson was in the bathroom for a long time.
When confronted, Johnson claimed that she simply had the stomach flu, the report states.
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Here is more from the report:
According to a news release from the state’s attorney’s office, Johnson initially reported that she did not know she was pregnant until she was in the course of childbirth that day and that the child was not breathing when he was born.
When confronted by the fact that the witness had heard the child crying, Johnson admitted the boy was alive when he was born and that he was crying, the state’s attorney’s office said. Johnson made statements suggesting that she may have been trying to quiet the child by putting a towel or her hand over his mouth.
According to the state’s attorney’s office, Johnson admitted that she had hidden the child’s body under her bed when the police initially came to her room to check on her welfare.
Forensic analysis of Johnson’s phone shows a history going back to September of searches made for information on pregnancy, pregnancy symptoms, miscarriage, home abortions, and how to manage physical signs of pregnancy after the loss of a baby, the state’s attorney’s office said.
If convicted, Johnson faces up to 75 years in prison, according to the report.
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said of the case: “I expect defense counsel to be exploring psychological defenses, and I would welcome that. There are many questions that remain unresolved. There is no joy in any of this. It’s a very tragic situation for everyone.”
According to the report, Johnson was an agriculture communications major and member of the university marching band.
The case is especially horrific and tragic because women who face desperate situations have other, life-affirming options available for themselves and their newborns.
All 50 states have laws to protect newborn babies from abandonment. Safe Haven Laws vary from state to state but typically allow mothers who cannot care for their newborns for whatever reason to leave them at a hospital, fire station or police office without legal repercussions. These laws have helped to save hundreds of babies’ lives.