SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota woman was charged Friday in the death of a newborn who was abandoned in a ditch 38 years ago, and police said they used DNA and genealogy sites to determine she was the babys mother.
Theresa Rose Bentaas was arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in the 1981 death of the infant, known as Baby Andrew.
Bentaas told authorities last month that she had hidden her pregnancy from her friends and family and gave birth while alone in her apartment, according to a court affidavit. Bentaas allegedly said she then drove the baby to the area he was later discovered, a cornfield ditch in Sioux Falls.
Bentaas, now 57, said she was young and stupid and felt sad and scared as she drove away, according to the document. The baby died of exposure.
Bentaas, who was 19 when the baby died, later married the infants father and has two living adult children with him, the Argus Leader reported.
The case has gripped Sioux Falls for decades. Roughly 50 people attended the childs funeral, held more than a week after he was discovered. Children left stuffed animals and a pin on his pajamas read: You are loved.
Retired Detective Mike Webb said authorities used DNA from the baby exhumed 10 years ago and DNA obtained from Bentaas through a search warrant. Webb said the father wont be charged because he wasnt involved.
I couldnt be more pleased with the results today and the arrest and the closure that we find, as well as the hard work and dedication for the pursuit of justice for Andrew, Chief Matt Burns said.
Public genealogy databases have been used in other recent cases, including the capture last April of the suspected Golden State Killer in northern California and the arrest of a businessman accused of fatally stabbing a Minneapolis woman in 1993.
In South Dakota, authorities submitted a DNA sample from Baby Andrew to Parabon NanoLabs, which found two possible matches using the public genealogical database GEDmatch. Police constructed a family tree and performed a trash pull to collect beer and water containers and cigarette butts at Bentaas home. Results from a cheek swab sample show theres extremely strong evidence to support a biological relationship between Bentaas and the child, according to the affidavit.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota woman has been charged in the death of a baby found in a ditch 38 years ago after police said they used DNA and genealogy sites to determine she was the mother.
Police in Sioux Falls said 57-year-old Theresa Rose Bentaas was arrested Friday in the death of the newborn who’d been dubbed Baby Andrew. The Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reports she is charged with murder and manslaughter.
Police say the baby was alive when he was left in a cornfield ditch in Sioux Falls in 1981. He died of exposure.
Retired Detective Mike Webb says authorities used DNA from the baby exhumed 10 years ago and DNA obtained from Bentaas through a search warrant.