40-Year-Old Cold Case of South Dakota Baby Ends With Conviction

A South Dakota girl was convicted on Friday within the dying of her new child son, in line with court docket paperwork, ending a chilly case that started when the boy’s physique was discovered close to a cornfield 4 many years in the past.

The girl, Theresa Bentaas, 60, of Sioux Falls, entered an Alford plea, which permits defendants to take care of their innocence whereas additionally getting into a responsible plea, to first-degree manslaughter in an settlement with prosecutors during which they dismissed two homicide prices, in line with the Second Judicial Court in South Dakota.

Ms. Bentaas had beforehand pleaded not responsible to the three prices.

Lawyers for Ms. Bentaas declined to touch upon Monday. The Minnehaha County State’s Attorney workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Monday.

The prices towards Ms. Bentaas drew from the invention of an toddler’s physique on Feb. 28, 1981, when a driver close to Sioux Falls noticed a pile of “wine-colored” blankets by the highway, he stated many years later in an interview with a local newspaper, The Argus Leader. The driver pulled over to take a look at the blankets as a result of they seemed new, he stated.

Inside the bundle was a lifeless child, and traces of blood have been discovered on clothes close by, in line with the arrest affidavit for Ms. Bentaas.

An post-mortem discovered that the newborn had been born alive, most probably the day earlier than, and had in all probability died of publicity, in line with the affidavit.

Investigators have been unable to search out the newborn’s mom and family members. After about 50 residents attended the newborn’s burial at St. Michael Catholic Cemetery, the case went chilly. The child grew to become referred to as Andrew John Doe.

In 2009, as DNA evaluation grew broadly accessible and unfold into prison investigation, detectives picked up the Sioux Falls case and obtained a court docket order to exhume the physique for testing. The stays have been taken to the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the place a DNA profile was obtained, in line with the affidavit, which famous that the newborn’s stays have been reburied in 2010.

Through superior DNA testing, a household tree was produced, main investigators to a residence in Sioux Falls the place Ms. Bentaas had been residing, the affidavit stated.

Detectives discovered DNA within the trash at her residence, and analysts decided that it “could not be excluded” from a profile of the newborn’s organic mom, in line with the affidavit.

In March 2019, the Sioux Falls Police Department introduced that investigators had, by way of DNA testing and family tree databases, lastly tracked down the baby’s mother, naming Ms. Bentaas. She was arrested on homicide prices.

On Feb. 27, 2019, Ms. Bentaas informed investigators that in 1981 she was “young and stupid,” in line with the affidavit. She stated she had hidden her being pregnant from household and pals, and given delivery alone in her condo. She then drove the newborn to the place by the highway the place he was later discovered, the affidavit stated.

The affidavit stated that Ms. Bentaas recalled feeling “sad” and “scared,” and that she continued to suppose of that evening when she drove by the spot.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2, in line with court docket information.

Susan Beachy contributed analysis.

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