On November 8, 2008, Jeff Merrow, 49 of Turlock, found an infant’s dead body wrapped in a Target bag with the umbilical cord still attached. The body was still warm to the touch and appeared to be dead when authorities arrived. The baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Shortly after authorities began searching for the mother, 19 year old Jessica Mae Betts was identified as the mother and arrested.
On Monday, November 24, 2008 Jessica Betts appeared in the Stanislaus County Superior Court where she was charged with first-degree murder.
The deceased infant has been named Maria Mae Betts.
Jessica Betts is being charged with first-degree murder while the district attorney’s office is pressing that Betts acted intentionally, deliberately, and with premeditation. Betts is facing a sentence of life in prison if convicted as guilty.
Betts did not have an attorney and did not admit guilt. After being asked if she wanted to hire an attorney, Betts said that she could not afford one. Judge Donald Shaver appointed the public defender’s office to represent Jessica Betts.
Betts bail was set at $1 million by Judge Shaver.
Betts’ pretrial hearing is scheduled for December 9, 2008. The mother charged with murdering her newborn baby is being held at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center in Modesto.
The father of the Maria Mae Betts is still unknown.