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Bond set at $500,000 in abandoned baby case

September 28, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Bond was set at $500,000 Tuesday for a Hagerstown woman charged with attempted first-degree murder after she allegedly abandoned her baby boy under a woodpile in an alley Sept. 17.

Kelly Erin Ruck, 25, wore a baggy black sweater and jeans as she appeared via closed circuit television Tuesday in Washington County District Court for her bond review hearing on charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and contributing to the condition of a child.

According to charging documents, Ruck's baby boy was discovered in an alley to the rear of the 800 block of Chestnut Street, lying under piled "large chunks of wood" beneath a trailer at about 9:30 a.m. The man who found the baby, James Sollenberger, told police his attention was drawn to the woodpile by bloody rags near the trailer and a baby's arm sticking out from under the wood. Sollenberger took the baby and called police, documents state.

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District Judge Ralph H. France II placed Ruck on a $500,000 fully secured bond despite a request from her attorney, Gordon Lynn, that the lifelong Hagerstown resident be allowed to go home with her parents. Lynn said Ruck turned herself into police Monday after spending four days in Washington County Hospital's psychiatric ward.

The baby, who was admitted to the hospital under the name Baby John Doe, has been placed in foster care through the Department of Social Services, Lynn said.

After the hearing, Lynn said a psychiatrist who treated Ruck is prepared to testify that she was not criminally responsible at the time of the alleged offense.

According to charging documents, after Sollenberger found the baby, he wrapped the boy in a towel from his home and called police from a neighbor's house. When detectives arrived, the baby was "covered with dried blood, mucous, dirt, dried leaves and other debris," documents state.

The baby was taken to the hospital, where staff said they believed the boy was less than 12 hours old, according to charging documents.

Two days after the baby was found, Ruck's boyfriend, Scott Rohrbaugh, who lived with Ruck at 809 Maryland Ave., told police he woke up the morning of Sept. 17 and found "a large amount of blood on the floor of all the downstairs rooms of his home, as well as some of the walls."

Police said in charging documents that "looking from the area where Baby John Doe was found, you can look directly into the back yard of 809 Maryland Avenue."

Rohrbaugh told police he "suspected" Ruck was pregnant, but said she never took a pregnancy test or told him that she was pregnant, according to charging documents. He told police that "especially over the past few weeks, she had gained quite a bit of weight around the area of her belly," documents state.

Ruck, in an interview the same day, told police "she in fact gave birth to a child in the living room of her home" the morning of Sept. 17, according to charging documents.

During the same interview with police, Ruck told them that after she gave birth, she went outside with the baby, took him across the alley behind her house and placed him "on the ground underneath a trailer parked along the alleyway," according to charging documents.

Charging documents state that Ruck told police "she then walked back into her home, got into the shower, and never told anyone about what she had done."

After the bond review hearing, Lynn said, "She did not intend on killing this baby." He said that a charge of attempted first-degree murder must be proven as a premeditated, deliberate attempt at murder. He said she was in and out of consciousness while giving birth and "cannot remember a whole lot of what happened."

"She was way overcharged," Lynn said. "I don't think when she was having that baby that she was in a state of mind that you or I would have been in."

He asked France to set her bond according to a reckless endangerment charge.

Ruck's preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled for Oct. 25 in District Court.

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