A Colorado woman was getting ready to use the hot tub on her deck in January when her dog smelled something unusual — leading to a horrifying discovery.
There was a dead newborn on the back deck of the woman’s Highlands Ranch, Colo., home on Jan. 2, KDVR reports. When the woman found the child, its umbilical cord was still attached, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman brought the lifeless child inside right away and called for authorities, who arrived at the scene just before 10 p.m.
After speaking with the woman who found the child, deputies said they found a suspect next door: Camille Wasinger-Konrad, 23, who was arrested and taken to the Douglas County Detention Center without bond, according to the sheriff’s office. She admitted to detectives that she was the child’s mother, and that she had tossed the newborn child over a 9-foot fence onto her neighbor’s deck 14 hours before the infant was found.
There was a bloody shower curtain in the home’s trash can, and Wasinger-Konrad’s landlord said she’d cleaned blood from the bathroom the suspect used earlier that day, KDVR reports. But the landlord said she didn’t know her renter was pregnant.
Wasinger-Konrad has been charged with first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, according to Douglas County Detention Center records. During a Tuesday court appearance, new details in the case emerged, KDVR reports. The judge also approved prosecutors’ request that she be swabbed for DNA.
Wasinger-Konrad was renting a room from the family that lived next door, detectives said. At first, Wasinger-Konrad told police she had no clue what they could be investigating, KDVR reports. But Wasinger-Konrad agreed to speak with police, and eventually — after a detective mentioned the dead baby, and asked Wasinger-Konrad if the child’s DNA might match hers — the suspect confessed, deputies said. She told authorities she didn’t realize she was pregnant, but that stomach cramps had woken her up early that morning and a “baby just came out.”
Wasinger-Konrad told detectives she covered the child’s mouth to muffle its cries from her sleeping landlord and took the baby outside, KDVR reports. Then, Wasinger-Konrad threw the baby over the fence into her neighbor’s yard, she told detectives. Blood evidence suggests the newborn bounced off a railing, detectives testified, before hitting a deck chair and falling onto the deck.
Within three days of a child’s birth, parents in Colorado can leave their newborns at fire departments or hospitals with no questions asked — and without the threat of criminal charges — so long as the child has not been harmed, the Denver Post reports. States across the country have similar safe haven laws to protect newborns.
“If a woman has been hiding her pregnancy and denying it, for whatever reason, this gives her the opportunity to keep her secret safe, while also keeping her baby safe,” Safe Haven for Newborns Executive Director Linda Prudhomme told CBS Denver.
Prudhomme added that child abandonment is a deadly and underreported problem.
“Research shows that for every baby that's found dead there are at least two more that were abandoned and never found,” Prudhomme told KMGH.
Neighbors expressed horror at the scene police said had occurred just a few houses away.
“The street was blocked off by a large cop car,” neighbor Eric Updyke told KMGH. “And as a father, like I say, my heart's breaking.”