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Wisconsin mom charged after dead newborn found stuffed inside cardboard box in abandoned field

Santos Asucena Caseres Cruz (Whitewater Police Dept.)

Santos Asucena Caseres Cruz (Whitewater Police Dept.)

The mother of a newborn found dead inside a cardboard box abandoned in an empty field in Wisconsin earlier this month has been arrested in connection with the death.

Santos Asucena Caseres Cruz was taken into custody last week and charged with one count each of neglecting a child resulting in death and moving, hiding, or burying the corpse of a child, court documents obtained by Law&Crime show.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, officers with the Whitewater Police Department responded about 11 a.m. on March 4 to a report of a dead baby at the Twin Oaks Trailer Park, about 55 miles west of Milwaukee. Authorities found a cardboard box about five yards from the roadway. Inside was a black garbage bag, a piece of red cloth, and the newborn’s remains.

Investigators said the cloth the infant was wrapped in was a blood-stained shirt, according to the affidavit. The baby’s umbilical cord was still attached, and police say he still had “ruminants of blood from birth on his body.”

An autopsy could not immediately determine the cause of death.

The box was sent to a crime lab for analysis. Investigators created an image of the shipping label with a visible address through forensic imaging. The address was traced back to an individual, identified in the document as “Witness 1.”

In an interview with police on March 24, Witness 1 said his father told him he believed that Witness 1’s mother — Cruz — had an affair and became pregnant by a man who was not Witness 1’s father. Witness 1 said his father believed that his mother had subsequently had an abortion.

Investigators then interviewed Cruz, who said “she was not pregnant and did not conceal a newborn infant in a field,” the complaint said.

“She said she would never do that to a baby,” the document states. “She said the accusations by her ex-husband, who was abusive, were untrue.”

Cruz provided a buccal swab and allegedly allowed police to search her car and residence.

Another of Cruz’s children, “Witness 2,” told police that her mother was in the bathroom on Jan. 27  for a long time due to stomach pain.

Witness 2 said there was so much blood that she believed her mother had been hemorrhaging.

In another interview with Cruz, she allegedly admitted she had been pregnant and hid the pregnancy from her family because the child’s father was not her husband. She believed her family would cut off contact with her if they learned the truth.

“When her baby was born, he had to have been alive, and she did not do anything, so that is how he might have died,” the complaint states. “After the baby was born, he started getting purple. His face started getting purple first, then as the night went on, his body, then his arms and hands. She never helped the baby. She did not call 911 because she was scared of her children finding out she was pregnant.”

She then hid the baby in the box under the sink cabinet, retrieved it around 4:30 a.m., and dropped it off at a trailer park about half an hour later.

She added that she “checked on the box every day and cried.”

Cruz was taken into custody, and her bond was $10,000. She is scheduled to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on April 4.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.