IN THE BIN...
Mum threw her baby
When Jessica Mae Betts suddenly gained more than 2st in weight and started hiding under baggy clothes, friends and family suspected that she was pregnant.
Her own mum Lillie Mae Betts bought teenager Jessica a pregnancy test.
And, even though Jessica refused to do the test, Lillie was certain she was about to become a grandmother.
She was so convinced that she even went out and bought some cute little outfits for her grandchild.
But they were clothes in which Jessica’s baby would never be dressed.
One night in November 2008, Jessica, then 19, started getting contractions.
That’s usually the point most mums-to-be head to hospital.
But Jessica was determined to keep her pregnancy as much of a secret as she could.
So instead, she locked herself away in the bathroom of her boyfriend’s home, which he shared with his parents.
Alone and in agony, she finally delivered a baby girl weighing 8lb 1oz.
The baby came out head first, and Jessica watched as the little girl whimpered and waved her arms.
Shortly after, she delivered the placenta. After cutting the umbilical cord, Jessica flushed the afterbirth down the toilet.
Then she got in the car with the baby and drove to a nearby Save Mart supermarket in Turlock, California.
For a while, she sat on the back seat holding and staring at her newborn daughter.
But the motherly cuddles didn’t last long.
After wrapping her child in a carrier bag, Jessica got out of the car, walked to the nearest bin and dumped her newborn baby inside.
She then drove back to her boyfriend’s house and pretended nothing had happened.
When she got into bed with her boyfriend, he asked why there was blood in the bathroom.
He had no idea Jessica was pregnant, so she lied and said she’d just had a heavy period. Jessica hoped that was the end of the story – that she could move on and forget about the baby she’d discarded.
But the tiny lifeless body of her baby was found shortly after, and a police investigation was launched.
Local media picked up the story – and, as she read about the case, Lillie wondered... Could it be Jessica’s baby? The more Lillie thought about it, the more it seemed that this was likely.
So she went to the local police station and told a detective of her suspicion.
The following day, officers went to speak to Jessica.
The young woman volunteered to go with them for questioning and, initially, appeared bubbly and happy.
But, over the course of a five-hour interview, her mood changed drastically.
As she lay on a couch in the police interview room, she started to hyperventilate.
Finally, after two hours of careful questioning, she admitted she was the mother of the baby found in the bin.
According to Jessica, her baby was born alive. She claimed she held her and cried as she watched the baby’s breathing slow and eventually stop.
She said she’d kissed her child on the head, told her, ‘I love you.’
When detectives quizzed Jessica on how her baby ended up in the bin, she claimed she
Alone and in agony, she finally delivered a girl, 8lb 1oz
didn’t know. But her fingerprints matched those found on the carrier bag in which the newborn was wrapped.
Later, DNA from the baby was found to match that of Jessica’s, proving beyond doubt the child was hers.
Jessica Mae Betts was charged with first-degree murder.
A medical expert who examined the baby’s remains said it was most likely she’d been born alive, but it wasn’t possible to prove this.
Based on this evidence, the charge against Jessica was reduced to felony child abuse that resulted in the death of her child.
Instead of going through a trial, Jessica opted for a plea of no contest – an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and defendant, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor.
Jessica admitted her guilt, and accepted an eight-year prison sentence.
‘The case was a tragedy for all concerned,’ the prosecutor said. ‘I think we struck a fair and just result.’
Jessica’s mum Lillie, who’d tipped off the police, cried in court as she asked for her daughter’s forgiveness...
‘I didn’t want to hurt her in any way,’ she said.
‘I hope that Jessica will some day forgive me, but I know in my heart that I tried to raise her the best that I could.’
Jessica, 20, remained emotionless for most of the hearing, except for when her mother spoke – when she began to sob quietly before being led away.
DNA proved beyond doubt that the child was hers
Grandma Lillie remembers the baby they named Maria Mae
Family grief Lillie and daughter Cynthia at the baby’s grave JESSICA MAE BETTS