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‘You left her in the trash’: Oklahoma couple arrested in death of newborn after loaning out cellphone with photos of dead child on it

Sarah N. Helton and Kevin R. Helton (Garfield County Sheriff's Office)

Sarah N. Helton and Kevin R. Helton (Garfield County Sheriff’s Office)

An Oklahoma woman and her estranged husband were arrested last week in connection with the presumed death of a newborn baby who was allegedly thrown in the trash before being retrieved and buried in an unknown location. Sarah N. Helton and Kevin R. Helton were taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with one count each of second-degree murder or in the alternative, one count of child neglect, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Enid News & Eagle, authorities believe that Sarah Helton gave birth to a child in late 2022 and that she and Helton caused the newborn’s death through neglect between Dec. 26, 2022, and Jan. 10, 2023. The duo were reportedly caught after one of them loaned a cellphone to a man who saw photos of the deceased child and text messages between the Heltons in which they allegedly discussed the newborn’s death and what they did with the remains.

“[The Heltons] engaged in with contemptuous and reckless disregard of, and in total indifference to, the life and safety of another, regardless of human life, although it was done without any premeditated designed to effect the death of any particular individual, to wit: (the Heltons) failed or omitted to obtain proper medical care, adequate nurturance and affection, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation or hygiene and/or special care necessary for the child’s health and safety caused by the physical condition of the child,” prosecutors reportedly wrote in charging documents.

Deputies with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office on March 31 responded to a call regarding evidence of a deceased baby that had been brought to the Noble County Sheriff’s Office.

The man who borrowed the Heltons’ phone reportedly told investigators that while going through the device, he saw a photo of a baby that appeared to be sleeping or deceased along with a disturbing message from Kevin Helton to Sarah Helton.

“Do you want me to tell your daughter what really happened to her sister,” the message reportedly read. “I buried her this morning because you left her in the trash,”

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the device and reportedly found five photographs and one video which all showed what appeared to be a dead newborn baby. The video’s metadata showed it was filmed at a residence located in the 200 block of Broadway in Hayward, the Eagle reported. The messages reportedly indicated that the baby was born inside the home on Dec. 27, 2022.

In an interview with investigators, Sarah Helton allegedly confirmed that she unexpectedly gave birth on Dec. 26 or Dec. 27, but claimed she did so at a midwife’s residence and that the day after the birth, Kevin Helton took the child to an adoption agency in Oklahoma City. However, police reportedly said she was unable to identify the name and location of either the midwife or the adoption agency and investigators found “no evidence” to support either claim.

Per the Eagle, she also stated that she believed there was a warrant out for her arrest so she did not want to go to a hospital to give birth.

Kevin Helton reportedly told investigators that his estranged wife gave birth in the bedroom of his home and prohibited him from calling an ambulance due to the possibility of an active warrant. He reportedly said shortly after the child was born, Sarah Helton left his home “without notice,” and that he found the baby in the trash a few days later.

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The location of the child reportedly remains unknown and investigators wrote that the baby is “presumed to possibly be deceased and disposed of,” the Eagle reported.

Sarah Helton in 2017 was convicted in Tulsa County on one count of accessory to murder, court records show. She was sentenced to serve 17 years in prison with credit for about 2 years of time served. However, she was released from prison in May 2022, less than five years after her conviction. The Garfield County District Attorney’s Office and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to emails inquiring about Sarah Helton’s release from prison.

The Heltons are both scheduled to appear before District Judge Blake A. Gibson on April 24 for a bond hearing.

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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.