STREAMWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — A 19-year-old northwest suburban woman gave birth to a full-term baby boy in a Salvation Army store bathroom last week, then wrapped a plastic bag around his neck, put him in a garbage bag and covered his body with paper towels.
The boy was born alive, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and it took 3-1/2 to 6 minutes for the infant to die by strangulation, authorities said.
Jessica Cruz, of the 2000 block of Osage Lane in Hanover Park, was charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death, according to Streamwood police. In court Wednesday, Judge Jill Marisi ordered her held without bond, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.
Cruz walked into the Salvation Army store at 1080 Barrington in Streamwood about 10 a.m. on Nov. 4 and asked to use the bathroom. That’s where she gave birth to the boy, then placed him in a plastic garbage bag and tied the bag tightly around his neck, court records said.
She then placed the bag in a garbage can and covered the baby with paper towels to conceal him. She cleaned up the blood and left the store, but entered a second store about a half-mile away a short time later, using the restroom there as well, court records said.
Employees at the second store found blood in the bathroom and Cruz was captured on video surveillance. Employees at the Salvation Army store found the infant in the garbage can.
An autopsy found the baby had an umbilical cord and placenta still attached and the garbage bag tightly wrapped around his neck. After the doctor removed the bag, they noticed ligature marks on the neck consistent with having a bag tightly tied. The boy suffered a neck hemorrhage and the cause of death was ruled homicide by strangulation, prosecutors said.
Three witnesses from the Salvation Army store identified Cruz as the person who entered the bathroom and left it bloody. Four witnesses at the second store also positively identified Cruz.
Cruz admitted to police that she gave birth to the boy in the bathroom and didn’t look to see what sex he was. He was alive and moving when she put him in the plastic bag and wrapped it around his neck and put him in the garbage, she told police.
Cruz told authorities she didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant except for the baby’s father, even though she lived with her mother during the pregnancy. She also admitted to pretending to be her mother when police called her home, prosecutors said.
Cruz has no criminal history and will appear for a preliminary hearing at the Rolling Meadows courthouse on Dec. 2., Simonton said.