Woman Allegedly Said She Was ‘Young and Stupid’ When She Left Newborn to Die in a Ditch 38 Years Ago

In 1981, a newborn identified only as Andrew John Doe, was found dead in a ditch in Sioux Falls, South Dakota cornfield.

Now cops say they know who’s responsible for the decades-old cold case: The victim’s mother, Theresa Rose Bentaas, 57, was arrested Friday morning. Clerks at the Minnehaha County Court told Law&Crime she is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and first-degree manslaughter. There is no attorney of record, or scheduled court appearance at this time.

Officers said they tracked her down using an increasingly common investigative tactic: They took the boy’s DNA, tracked down a distant relative on a genealogy database from Parabon NanoLabs, and confirmed Bentaas’ link to the victim using a “trash pull” from her residence in order to obtain her DNA, according to The Argus Leader. Similar methods were used in cases like the 1992 murder of teacher Christy Mirack, and the ongoing charges against accused Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.

Andrew died from exposure, authorities said.

“I sure would have adopted him rather than see him die like that,” said the man who found him, Lee Litz, in a 2017 interview with The Argus Leader.

Bentaas allegedly admitted to cops that she was “young and stupid” at the time of the incident. She hid the pregnancy from her friends and family, had the baby alone in her apartment, and left the newborn to die in a ditch. When it came to news coverage of the child, she said she was in denial about being “the one responsible for that.”

The father of the baby was not charged. He reportedly has two adult children with the defendant.

Sioux Fall jails records show that Bentaas remains locked up on $250,025.00 bail.

[Mugshot via Sioux Falls]

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