SEATTLE - More details have unfolded in an unusual cold case that happened more than two decades ago involving a dead newborn found inside a gas station restroom.
A Seattle woman is accused of killing her newborn son after giving birth to him in Chevron gas station in 1997 and leaving him in a trashcan.
On Monday, the child's mother was charged with second-degree murder.
Over the decades, detectives used the woman's DNA and genealogy to piece together a family tree of the baby that led investigators to their suspect: his mother. The woman allegedly confessed to being the baby’s mother and leaving him in the trash and that police did not object to her release, according to court documents.
A defense attorney on Friday argued in court that the woman posed no threat to the community and the nature of her accused crime is unique and not possible for her to commit again. Ultimately a judge set her bond at $10,000, a notably low amount for a homicide case.
Two months after the baby boy's body, Doe was found, he was laid to rest in a memorial led by the case detective and a King County Medical Examiner’s Office investigator. About 50 community members with no ties to the baby felt compelled to show up and pay their respects.
Therese Jensen brought a stuffed bear for the baby during the ceremony in 1998.
"There are so many people out here who are wanting to have babies and can’t have children of their own and I can’t understand why someone would do something so terrible," Jensen said in 1998.
Now, 23 years later she said still thinks of that memorial and the baby boy often.
"I couldn’t make sense of this. I had to be here, I had to," Jensen said on Friday.
News of the arrest has brought Jensen some relief; it also stirs up questions that have lingered for decades.
"Help me understand why would you do that? Because I don't understand why and I don't want to judge you, I just want to understand what made you think that was the only option you had?" said Jensen.
Police said the woman seen on the Chevron surveillance cameras was 27 years old at the time. A witness said she held the bathroom door open for the woman and later heard a baby cry. Within 15 minutes the woman was seen leaving the gas station.
Two decades later, when police came to her door she allegedly confessed to having the baby in the bathroom and said she dropped him in the toilet where he remained for several minutes. She reportedly told officers she panicked, put him in the trashcan, then covered him in waste. He was found dead 20 hours later.
Since then, the woman has gone on to live a seemingly quiet life. Attorneys said she lives alone in a Seattle apartment and works in tech support. Other than a DUI in 2007, she has had no other contact with law enforcement.
For what has been such a tragic story from the start, people like Jensen said she hopes in some way, baby Doe can feel how much people care.
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