No charges after mom admits killing baby in 1961

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Calhoun County prosecutor has decided not to file murder charges against a mother who recently confessed to killing her 8-month-old son more than 50 years ago.

The boy’s 1961 death certificate says the cause of death was lack of oxygen due to regurgitation of baby formula. But family members and the county prosecutor’s office say that the baby’s mother, now 78, admitted in September 2014 that she smothered him.

“There’s been suspicion of this for many years, but never anything spoken out loud,” said one of the baby’s brothers, who 24 Hour News 8 is not naming in order to hide the identity of the mother because she has not been charged with a crime.

The mother said she killed the baby because she couldn’t handle taking care of three children by herself. Their father was a truck driver and was often on the road.

Family members recorded the confession and passed it along to authorities. They started investigating, even exhuming the baby’s remains from a cemetery in Marshall.

Still, the mother won’t be charged. Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert told 24 Hour News 8 on Sunday that the confession was not enough. Even after the exhumation, authorities do not have enough evidence to support the confession. Gilbert said the mother’s current mental state played a role in the decision, as well.

“It’s a shame, but this is the way it is,” said the baby’s brother.

Family members say the baby’s father also knew the mother had killed him but kept it a secret.

“I know that there are friends of my family that say postpartum depression will do that and I understand that that’s a reason, but it’s not an excuse,” added the baby’s brother. “I don’t feel that it should just be swept under the table.”

The baby’s brother told 24 Hour News 8 that he understands why the prosecutor decided not to file charges, but had hoped for a different outcome. He said he and his siblings have suspected for years their mother was responsible for the boy’s death.

“Someone gave their life for this. That’s a lack of justice. I know it happened a very long time ago, but still someone died. That can never be justified. I have a small kid. I could never imagine this,” the brother said.

Two more of the mother’s children — twins — also died under suspicious circumstances, according to family members. One died in 1969 at 4 months old and the other in 1970 at less than 12 months old, family members said. No charges were ever filed in those cases, either.

An undated courtesy image of the twins who died in 1969 and 1970.
An undated courtesy image of the twins who died in 1969 and 1970.

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