A 14-year-old Lakeland girl has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the disturbing death of a newborn boy.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office released information on the troubling investigation Friday morning. The girl was arrested Thursday after deputies say she delivered a baby boy and then choked him to death.
And, according to the sheriff's office, the girl's mother was in denial about her pregnancy up until the delivery. Deputies say the mother found the dead boy among laundry items at the home.
The girl's mother was collecting dirty laundry when she found the boy inside a shoebox among dirty clothes and towels, the sheriff's office said.
According to detectives, the girl began feeling ill last week, and sometime that Wednesday morning she went into labor, delivering the boy alone in her bathroom. Deputies said the boy was alive when the girl allegedly felt for a pulse and then choked him to death.
The sheriff's office then says the 14-year-old cleaned up the bathroom and placed the baby in the shoebox.
Detectives say family members had suspected the pregnancy but the girl – who is about 5-foot-3 and weighs 100 pounds – wore baggy clothes to conceal her pregnancy.
According to the sheriff's office, the mother denied her daughter was ever pregnant despite concern from family members. The sheriff's office said the mother told the family members the girl took two pregnancy tests that came back negative. But she also said the girl took those tests in private, with no supervision or witnesses.
"We asked why she did this, and she said because she didn't want to change the relationship with her mother and her family," Judd said. "We asked her why she did not do something with the child, and she said 'I didn't know what to do with it.' And we talked to the mother, and the mother was in absolute, total denial. She clearly told us that she didn't know that her child was pregnant, even though her two sisters ... continued to tell her on several occasions you need to check."
An autopsy has confirmed that the baby was a full-term infant and that he was alive and breathing before his death. It also confirmed the result of death was asphyxia from strangulation and blunt force trauma.
The girl has been taken to the Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility. It's unclear if she'll be tried as an adult. That's up to the state attorney's office.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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