The mother and grandfather of a newborn found dead in a ditch in Iowa have been charged with first-degree murder, and court documents say they told investigators the baby was still alive when they put him in a garbage bag and they abandoned him.
Megan K. Staude, 25, told police the baby was born at the home on Feb. 24, according to a police affidavit. She told authorities she placed it in a box and provided no assistance for two days before she and her father Rodney A. Staude, 64, placed it in the bag.
Rodney Staude also confessed and said he helped his daughter dispose of the purse in a ditch near Norwalk, according to the documents.
Both Staudes initially told police the baby died on the way to hospital after the birth, authorities said. Megan Staude said she buried him in a cemetery in Cumming, Iowa, but authorities have found no evidence of a new grave at the cemetery.
Law enforcement received a tip from Megan Staude’s colleagues on March 8, which led to the discovery of the body. On March 13, a witness showed authorities a text conversation with Megan Staude, in which the witness asked her, “Was the baby alive when you left him?” and she replied, “A little,” the complaint reads.
“It’s just a tragic set of circumstances on several levels,” Norwalk Police Chief Greg Staples told The Des Moines Register. “That child didn’t get a chance to decide his own fate and now there are people in prison for it.”
The results of the autopsy are awaited and investigations are ongoing.
Rodney and Megan Staude are each being held in the Warren County Jail on $1 million bail.
Authorities told the Registry they did not know who the father of the child is.
CBS affiliate KCCI-TV reports that the city of Norwalk says the home where the baby was born has been a public nuisance for months. The city says the house is deteriorating and not safe to occupy, the station said.
Neighbors told KCCI that the house has been in bad shape for a long time.
“Run down, almost run down,” said Dayce Gute.
Iowa has a “Safe Haven” law that allows someone to leave a baby up to 3 months old in a hospital or health care facility without facing lawsuits.
The children of Safe Haven are then placed with foster or adoptive families.
According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, “A parent can also call 911 and relinquish physical custody of a child for up to 90 days to a 911 call first responder.”