Police charge student with murder of newborn son after finding body in her backpack
URBANA, Illinois, April 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 20-year-old university student has been charged with the murder of her newborn son after she allegedly delivered him in a dorm bathroom, suffocated him with a towel, and then hid the remains first under her bed, and then later in her backpack.
Last Monday, police charged Lindsay Johnson, a sophomore at the University of Illinois studying agricultural communications, with first-degree murder, child endangerment, and concealment of a homicidal death. The charges all involved the birth and death of her baby last month, The News Gazette reported.
On March 13, campus police were called into Johnson’s dorm after students reported hearing loud groans coming from a bathroom suite. Johnson allegedly told the officers, who had tracked her down in her dorm room, that she had been suffering from a stomach sickness and did not require help.
A couple of hours later, police were again summoned back to the dorm after students reported hearing cries from a baby. Police then entered the bathroom and discovered blood on the floor. Johnson had by that time fled the building.
Police began a search for Johnson. They quickly found her walking on campus wearing a backpack. Inside the backpack, they discovered the remains of the baby.
During police questioning, Johnson initially claimed that the baby was stillborn. But when police told her that people in the dorm room had heard a crying baby, Johnson revised her story, admitting that her son was born alive and had cried.
She then went on to tell the police that she attempted to quiet her crying baby by putting a towel and even her hand over his mouth. She also revealed that she first hid her baby under her bed when police had first asked if she needed help.
Johnson also told police that she was not aware of her pregnancy until she went into labor. But when police later made a forensic analysis of Johnson's phone, they found a history going back to September 2015 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, according to a police report.
An autopsy later confirmed that the baby had in fact been born alive.
Friends of the sophomore told the Chicago Tribune that Johnson had been spending most of her time with her boyfriend. They said that they noticed that she had lately gained weight, but that her normal dress of baggy clothes concealed the reason.
Johnson now faces up to 60 years in jail if convicted of first-degree murder. She faces additional time if convicted of subsequent charges involving the concealment of her son’s body.
On Tuesday during a court appearance, Johnson pled not guilty to the charges, reported the Daily Illini. She was later freed that same day after her parents paid a $75,000 cash bond. A trial date has been set for May 3.
Followers of the case may be left wondering if over four decades of legal abortion in the U.S. may have contributed anything to convincing the woman that human life is disposable when inconvenient.
Johnson’s case, unfortunately, is far from unique. Last month a maintenance supervisor at an apartment complex in Everett, Washington saved a newborn baby from a gruesome death after hearing baby sounds coming from within the dumpster. Despite being thrown out along with the garbage, the baby survived. Three years ago, LifeSiteNews published a groundbreaking report detailing a string of cases, both in the U.S. and internationally, where mothers delivered and then disposed of their children.
It remains unclear at this point why Johnson did not make use of a safe haven baby drop off location found at fire departments and hospitals across the state. The Illinois safe heaven law states that a mother can anonymously “leave your baby, up to 30 days old, with a staff member at any hospital, fire station, police station or emergency medical services provider in Illinois” and avoid “civil or criminal liability.”