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Remains of a baby were found in her home after doctors found signs that she had given birth.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
A Christiansburg woman has been charged after the remains of a fetus were discovered by police last month in the closet of a home.
Melinda Sue Woolwine, 23, has been charged with one count of transporting, secreting, concealing or altering a dead body to prevent the detection of the death or the manner or cause of death.
Police also executed a search warrant this week investigating information that Woolwine may have had another child that was concealed or buried at her residence. According to the warrant, no evidence or items were seized during that search.
The remains that were found on Sept. 28 were wrapped in a bag and hidden in a closet inside a home in the 100 block of East Street, authorities have said.
According to a Friday news release, police believe Woolwine gave birth to a nearly full-term fetus about two or three weeks before the remains were discovered.
The remains were taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy and investigation, according to the release. The medical examiner’s preliminary report indicates that tests to determine whether the fetus was alive at birth were inconclusive due to the state of decomposition.
“In coordination with the Christiansburg Police Department, I feel confident this is the appropriate charge to place against Ms. Woolwine at this time as we have no evidence that the fetus was born alive,” Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt was quoted saying in the release.
Police spokeswoman Becky Wilburn has said that the investigation began on Sept. 27 when medical professionals at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery contacted police about a female patient. The patient allegedly denied that she had recently given birth, despite showing signs to the contrary, Wilburn said.
According to a search warrant filed on Oct. 2 in the county circuit court clerk’s office, Woolwine went to the hospital complaining of fatigue and blood loss.
She underwent surgery, and a surgeon reported to police that her bleeding was caused by the presence of a placenta, according to the warrant.
The placenta was tested and was consistent with that of a third-term pregnancy. Christiansburg Detective David Moye wrote in the search warrant that the hospital staff advised him that a fetus born in the third trimester of pregnancy could have been a viable birth.
According to the warrant obtained this week, Woolwine admitted to having a baby in October 2012 that was blue and gray and not breathing at birth. She told police that the remains discovered in September were those of that baby. But the medical examiner determined that the remains found were consistent with a fetus that had been born two or three weeks before it was discovered.
People who know Woolwine told police that she did appear to be pregnant prior to October 2012 and prior to this incident, but witnesses never saw her with a baby between October 2012 and September of this year.
Woolwine has been released on an unsecured bond and ordered to continue treatment as recommended, according to the release. She was also ordered to remain in the state pending trial.
The charge is a Class 6 felony, which carries a sentence of one to five years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine upon conviction.
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