Woman, 24, arrested in January death of newborn daughter

04/18/2013 12:00 AM

09/23/2013 10:10 PM

When Courtney Kathleen Addington arrived at Mercy General Hospital on Jan. 25, bleeding uncontrollably, a medical examination and a pregnancy test indicated she had recently given birth.

But Addington, 24, repeatedly denied having done so, instead blaming her blood loss on irritable bowel syndrome, documents filed in Sacramento Superior Court allege.

Unconvinced, hospital employees alerted law enforcement. That night, Sacramento County sheriff's deputies searching Addington's Rosemont home found a newborn baby in a white trash bag hidden under a bed. In another bag, they found bloodied towels.

On Tuesday night, nearly three months after the gruesome discovery, deputies arrested Addington on suspicion of murder. They allege that the baby, born alive, died in her care – though how she died remains a mystery.

The baby was identified in the criminal complaint against Addington as Hayden Elaine.

"(Addington) had an obligation to care for the baby," sheriff's Sgt. Jason Ramos said. "Everything points to the fact she put the baby in the bag."

Addington declined media interviews Wednesday at the Sacramento County Main Jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned on the single murder count today.

A man who answered the phone at a home where Addington likely has relatives declined to comment. Another relative did not return a phone call from The Bee, and no one answered the door at the Rosemont home where Addington lived with roommates.

According to her Facebook page, Addington grew up in the Antelope area and graduated from Center High School. She studied at American River College and California State University, Chico.

In a request for an arrest warrant, child abuse Detective Janae Galovich wrote that Addington's boyfriend and family "all suspected she was pregnant due to her growing stomach and wearing baggy clothing." When confronted on "numerous" occasions, Addington denied the pregnancy and attributed her changing body to IBS, Galovich wrote.

She continued her denials after the baby was found, Galovich added.

Detectives spoke with Addington's doctor and learned she had never been seen for or diagnosed with IBS, nor had she been prescribed medication for the condition, as she told detectives, according to Galovich's request.

A forensic review of Addington's cellphone revealed that in the five days leading up to the delivery, Addington searched the Internet for phrases such as "IBS medications," "Signs of water breaking?" and "How to stop loss of blood," Galovich wrote.

Test results showed the baby – found in the bag with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached – was birthed by Addington, and that the woman's boyfriend was the baby's father, according to the warrant request.

Officials could not, however, determine how the baby died. The coroner's autopsy findings indicated only that the baby was born alive and breathed after delivery.

Ramos said detectives believe Addington delivered the baby alone, and that a family member who later drove her to Mercy General had no knowledge of what had happened.

He also said detectives have found no indication that Addington suffers from any mental illness.

An explanation for the alleged behavior remains elusive. Ramos emphasized that California has a Safely Surrendered Baby Law that allows women to surrender newborns within 72 hours of birth without fear of retribution.

"Considering the number of options available to women for dropping off a baby with no questions asked – from hospitals to fire stations to law enforcement agencies – it's tragic that anyone would choose not to at least offer an infant a viable chance at life, even if the parent didn't want to be a part of it," Ramos said.

For more information about state law and safe surrender sites, visit www.babysafe.ca.gov

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @kim_minugh.

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