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Newborn body found in Iowa ditch; Accusation of murder against mother, grandfather

The mother and grandfather of a newborn found dead in a ditch in Iowa have been charged with first-degree murder, and court documents say they told investigators the baby was still alive when they put him in a trash bag and abandoned him.

25-year-old Megan K. Stoudt told police the baby was born at the home on Feb. 24, according to a police affidavit. She told authorities she put him in a box and that she and her father, Rodney A. Stoudt, 64, did not provide any care for the two days before she was bagged.

The death of the newborn was reported in Iowa

Megan Staudt is shown in this mugshot provided by the Warren County Jail on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Indianola, Iowa.

/ AP

Rodney Stoudt also confessed and said he helped his daughter dump the bag in a ditch near Norwalk, according to the documents.

Both Stoudt initially told police the baby died on the way to the hospital after birth, authorities said. Megan Stoudt said she buried him in a cemetery in Cummings, Iowa, but authorities have found no evidence of a new grave in the cemetery.

Law enforcement officials received a tip from Megan Staudt’s co-workers on March 8, which led to the discovery of the body. On March 13, a witness showed authorities a text conversation with Megan Staudt, in which the witness asked her, “Was the baby alive when you left her?” And he replied, “A little,” the complaint says.

“It’s a tragic set of circumstances on a number of levels,” Norwalk Police Chief Greg Staples told The Des Moines Register. “That child had no choice but to decide his own fate and is now in prison because of it.”

An autopsy results are pending and the investigation is ongoing.

Rodney and Megan Staudt are each being held in the Warren County Jail on $1 million bond.

Authorities told the Register they do not know who the child’s father is.

CBS affiliate KCCI-TV reports that the city of Norwalk says the home where the baby was born has been a public nuisance for months. The city claims the home is deteriorating and not safe to occupy, the station reported.

Norwalk Police: Mother leaves child to die, disposes of body with help of father https://t.co/6SJgAu5eEJ

— KCCI News (@KCCINews) March 15, 2023

Neighbors told KCCI that the house was in bad condition for a long time.

“Run,” said Deis Gute, “in a state of utter disrepair.”

Iowa has a “safe haven” law that allows someone to leave a baby up to 3 months old in a hospital or health care facility without facing legal action.

Safe Haven children are then placed with foster or adoptive families.

According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, “A parent may also contact 911 and relinquish physical custody of a child up to 90 days old to the first responder on the 911 call.”

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