Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

A 32-year-old Idaho woman is facing three felony charges for hiding her newborn daughter’s body in a suitcase in a backyard doghouse after the baby died shortly after birth, according to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office.

Jessica Lynn Weeks has been charged with injury to a child, failure to report a death and destruction of evidence following a sheriff’s office investigation that was launched in June, according to law enforcement and court records the Idaho State Journal recently obtained.

The sheriff’s office began investigating Weeks after being notified by Idaho State Police that an inmate at the Cache County Jail in Logan, Utah, had information about a dead newborn child, according to an incident report from the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office.

Bannock County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Cache County Jail on June 5 and interviewed the inmate, who reported that he had learned of a baby that Weeks delivered at her home on the 3400 block of East State Highway 40 in Downey, adding that the baby died shortly after birth and was subsequently placed in a suitcase that was hidden in a doghouse on the property, the incident report said.

The inmate also provided deputies with the name of a woman who reportedly helped Weeks deliver the baby and that Weeks refused to have the baby delivered at a hospital because she was using drugs at the time, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies then interviewed another inmate at the Cache County Jail who reported that he was at Weeks’ home around January 2023 when he witnessed her place a purple suitcase in a doghouse behind her house, according to the incident report.

The second inmate told deputies that sometime around May he was at Weeks’ home cleaning around the residence when he came across the suitcase in the doghouse, adding that he opened the suitcase and observed a dead newborn inside, deputies said. The second inmate drew a map of Weeks’ property and the location of the doghouse relative to her home, which deputies say matched an overhead satellite image of the property.

On the evening of June 5, deputies executed a search warrant at Weeks’ home and noted smelling the odor of decomposition in the backyard near the doghouse, the incident report said.

Weeks was located hiding in a shed on her property and was detained by deputies on an outstanding warrant from Franklin County for drug charges while the search warrant was executed, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies removed the suitcase from the doghouse and opened it, revealing the skeletal remains of a newborn girl wrapped in a garbage sack and a blue baby blanket, according to the incident report.

Bannock County Coroner Torey Danner responded to the scene and took possession of the baby’s body, which was transported to the local morgue.

Deputies then interviewed a woman who was reportedly with Weeks and assisted her in delivering the baby, according to the incident report.

The woman told deputies that she did help Weeks deliver the baby in January 2023, adding that Weeks stopped during the delivery to have a cigarette and didn’t give the baby any attention after the birth was over, deputies said. The woman said she attempted to clear the baby’s airway immediately after the delivery and provided rescue breaths for about an hour before deciding that her efforts were futile and the baby was dead, the report says.

After the execution of the search warrant, Weeks was incarcerated at the Bannock County Jail in Pocatello on the outstanding warrant from Franklin County and deputies continued to investigate the deceased newborn.

On July 5, the sheriff’s office received the results of toxicology tests that were completed as part of an autopsy of the baby. The toxicology report showed the newborn had both amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system at the time of her death, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies also noted in their report that the FBI assisted in the investigation, conducting a subsequent autopsy at a facility in Quantico, Virginia, that determined the baby was estimated to have been born at 38 weeks.

When deputies attempted to interview Weeks about her deceased baby, she refused to answer any questions and requested an attorney, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies conducted a forensic analysis of Weeks’ cell phone, which revealed text messages that indicated she was aware that she was pregnant as early as December 2022.

The three felony charges were filed against Weeks on Monday in connection to her newborn’s death.

She appeared in front of 6th District Magistrate Judge Ted Israel for an arraignment hearing Monday, during which prosecutors requested her bond be set at $50,000.

Weeks is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 5 during which prosecutors will attempt to prove there is enough evidence against her to elevate the case from the magistrate to district court level for trial.

If convicted of all three felony charges, Weeks faces no less than one year and up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $110,000.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com

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