DNA Links Mother To Two Babies Found Along Mississippi River

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A woman, whose DNA confirmed she was the mother of two babies found dead along the Mississippi River in 1999 and 2003, has been arrested and charged with the murder of one of the infants.

Jennifer Lynn Matter, 50, from Belvidere Township, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the death of the newborn boy in 2003. Officials said she may face additional charges as more evidence is found in connection with the case of the baby girl found in 1999, according to USA Today

Officers from the Goodhue County Sheriff's Department discovered the unclothed baby boy, with his umbilical cord still attached, on Methodist Beach, along the shoreline of the Mississippi River in December 2003. The infant, found lying on the water's edge, was a full-term baby that was likely born alive, an autopsy revealed. The coroner ruled his death a homicide, but the cause of death was undetermined, a criminal complaint noted.

The baby girl, on the other hand, was found in November 1999. The dead infant, also discovered with her umbilical cord attached, was wrapped in a towel and floating in the river off the shore of the city of Red Wing.

"For over 20 years, the deaths of these innocent babies have haunted our community…" Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly said at a news conference, as per NBC News. "One of these babies, a girl, would have been living her adult life at 22 years of age. The other, a boy, would have likely graduated high school, with his whole adult life ahead of him."

Investigators concluded in 2004 that the two babies found four years apart were related to each other.

Both cases were unsolved for years until Matter was found to be a person of interest last year, according to CBS News. When questioned in April, she denied the baby girl was hers and refused to provide a voluntary DNA sample. Investigators obtained Matter's DNA with a search warrant and found "very strong evidence" of her being the mother of both babies.

Matter later told investigators she was "in and out of jail, drinking too much, doing a lot of stupid things" and found herself bleeding one day in 1999. She said she gave birth to the baby girl in the bathroom and noticed the infant wasn't breathing. Matter then claimed she wrapped the baby in a towel before putting her in the river the next day.

Matter initially denied knowing anything about the case of the baby boy but "spontaneously" remembered details later. She told investigators she was "almost positive" she was alone at the beach when she went into labor. She also mentioned she was laying low because cops were on the lookout for her at the time, the criminal complaint indicated.

Matter said the child was breathing, but she couldn't remember if he was crying. She said she left the baby on the beach and drove away, hoping somebody would find him.

Officials said Matter was booked into Goodhue County Jail following her arrest. Her bail hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.


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Photo: Credit: Pixabay / Sanjasy

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