DNA test identifies dead girl's mother

DNA test results confirmed that Jessica Mae Betts, 19, is the mother of the newborn girl found in a Turlock Dumpster, police said Wednesday.

Authorities charged Betts with first-degree murder last week in Stanislaus County Superior Court, with an enhancement stating that Betts acted "intentionally, deliberately and with premeditation."

The Turlock teenager has pleaded not guilty and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. She remains in custody at the Public Safety Center in Modesto with a bail of $1 million.

The infant was named Maria Mae Betts, according to court documents.

On the afternoon of Nov. 8, Turlock police received a report that an infant had been found in a Dumpster at the Save Mart parking lot in the 1600 block of Lander Avenue.

The infant was warm to the touch but appeared to be dead when emergency crews arrived, police said. The infant was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

The infant's body was found in a white Target bag, with the umbilical cord attached, according to the man who found her. Jeff Merrow, 49, of Turlock said the girl was blue and didn't seem to be breathing.

Betts will be back in court Tuesday.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at or 578-2337.