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City woman charged with murder of baby

September 30, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown woman was charged Friday with murdering her baby son soon after he was born prematurely in her home on Sept. 21, according to charging documents filed in Washington County District Court.

Patricia Ann Stotelmyer, 25, of 28 Wakefield Road, was charged with one count each of second-degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment, child abuse resulting in death and child abuse, police said.

Stotelmyer was charged after an autopsy determined a baby boy born about two months prematurely had died by asphyxiation, according to charging documents.

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Hagerstown police found the "body of a baby boy concealed in a grocery bag with a wet towel wrapped around his head and part of his body" when they searched Stotelmyer's home Sunday, according to charging documents.

The baby's body was found in the kitchen in a tied grocery bag that had been placed in a trash bag with other trash, according to charging documents.

Police were dispatched to Stotelmyer's home to determine the location and condition of the baby on Sunday after Stotelmyer went to Washington County Hospital to be treated for hemorrhaging, police said.

At the hospital, Stotelmyer denied having been pregnant or having a miscarriage, according to charging documents. But a medical examination revealed a placenta and attached umbilical cord, and an emergency room doctor determined Stotelmyer had given birth to a baby who was about seven months developed.

Police could not immediately interview Stotelmyer about the whereabouts of the baby because she needed surgery due to the delivery. Concerned about the missing baby's welfare, police entered Stotelmyer's empty west Hagerstown home and found the baby's body, according to charging documents.

Police interviewed Stotelmyer at the hospital about 11 p.m. Sunday and again on Monday after the state medical examiner ruled the baby's death a homicide by asphyxia, according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer told police on Sunday she sought help at a neighbor's home after she awoke feeling ill last Saturday morning, but returned home and took a bath after her knocks on the neighbor's door were unanswered, according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer said she bled before giving birth in the bathtub, and cut the umbilical cord with a pair of child safety scissors, according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer said Sunday she "felt the baby move while it was between her legs but saw no other movement." She said she "didn't want to look at the baby," according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer told police he left the baby in the tub with the water running after she got out of the tub and pulled the drain plug, according to charging documents. Stotelmyer said she went to the kitchen to get a towel and bag for the baby.

Asked by police Monday if the baby was alive when she left the bathroom, Stotelmyer said "she heard the noise but just wasn't thinking and she was scared," according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer said she wrapped the baby in the towel, placed him in the bag and tied it, placed the bag in a larger trash bag and lay down, according to charging documents. She told police that "she didn't know what to do so she put the baby in the bag."

Stotelmyer said she didn't hear any sounds coming from the bag, nor did she check on the baby in the bag, according to charging documents. She said she "just knew it wasn't breathing because of it being in the water."

Stotelmyer responded "yes" when police asked her if she knew that her failure to call for help or take the baby out of the water would result in his death, according to charging documents.

Further investigation revealed that Stotelmyer's ex-boyfriend took her to the hospital Sunday after seeing blood when he went to Stotelmyer's home to pick up the former couple's 3-year-old son, according to charging documents.

The ex-boyfriend tried to pick up his son twice on Saturday, but got no answer when he knocked on the door, according to charging documents.

Stotelmyer was being held on $400,000 bond Friday night at the Washington County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 24.

The Department of Social Services took custody of Stotelmyer's two sons, ages 3 and 8, following her arrest, police said.

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