EASTON, PA, August 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – A 26-year old Pennsylvania woman is facing capital murder charges after confessing to wrapping her newborn son in a bag and leaving him in a toilet tank in a sports bar restroom.
Amanda Catherine Hein was charged Monday with one count of criminal homicide in the death of the infant, whom the coroner determined was alive and healthy at the time of his birth. She is being held without bond, and could face the death penalty.
According to reports by Lehigh Valley Live, Hein was at Starters Pub in the Philadelphia suburb of Bethlehem watching a televised wrestling match with three male friends when she complained of back pain and went to the ladies’ bathroom. She was gone for about 40 minutes, during which she ignored texts from the men asking if she was okay. Her friends, who did not know she was pregnant, said that when she returned, her clothing was stained with blood. She told them not to worry about it and went outside to have a cigarette, then returned to watch the rest of the fight.
The next morning, a cleaning crew at the bar investigated a malfunctioning toilet and found an infant’s body stashed in the water tank. An ambulance was called, but then canceled when it became clear the baby was dead.
A later autopsy revealed the baby boy had been born alive and died of suffocation, although it was not immediately clear whether the cause was the toilet tank water or the plastic bag he was wrapped in. His development was estimated at between 33 and 36 weeks gestation.
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Investigators found large amounts of blood in the area where Hein and her friends had been seated, which enabled them to track her down. According to court documents, Hein admitted giving birth to the baby boy in the restroom the night before, wrapping him in a trash can liner and hiding him inside the toilet tank.
Pennsylvania’s “Safe Haven” law allows parents who do not want to raise their children to leave them anonymously at local hospitals without fear of prosecution.
Asked about what might have led Hein to leave her baby for dead, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli was at a loss for words. “I cannot get inside this lady’s head,” Morganelli told local reporters at a press conference. “I have no clue.”
But the prosecutor emphasized that regardless of Hein’s motive, murder is inexcusable. “Whether it was 1 hour or 10 minutes old or 1 year old, it is a person, and this person’s life was taken,” said Morganelli.
Louiseann Hein, Amanda’s stepmother, was distraught over the news. She hadn’t known about the pregnancy, but told local newspaper The Morning Call that after a piece of mail from Planned Parenthood arrived at her home addressed to Amanda, she had tried to make sure her stepdaughter knew that she would always be welcome to stay, even if she had a baby.
“I told her she always had a home here,” the elder Hein said, between sobs. “We would make room. Would find a way.”
Bar owner Dave Rank said he was deeply affected by the crime. “I’ve been on the phone with the police, and I’ve been on the phone with my church,” he told The Morning Call, through tears. “I mean, this is a devastating thing.”
Local law enforcement is still trying to identify the baby’s father.