Cops: Mom stabbed newborn 135 times
Police say Oakdale 17-year-old killed baby in panic after giving birth; she's charged with 1st-degree murder
BY ALEX FRIEDRICH and TAD VEZNER
Nicole Marie Beecroft is a Tartan High School senior who lists on her MySpace page a love of partying, listening to rap and shopping - with hopes of graduating this year and getting a car.
But she became a mother on Monday. And prosecutors say that, in a fit of panic, she killed her newborn baby girl by stabbing her over and over - 135 times.
Beecroft, a 17-year-old from Oakdale who goes by "Nikki," was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of the baby, which prosecutors say she dumped in the garbage can outside her Hinton Trail North house after killing her.
If convicted, she could spend the rest of her life in prison. Bail was scheduled to be set at a hearing today.
"She has basically destroyed two lives - the baby's and hers," Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson said.
Johnson said authorities have questioned the baby's father. But he said he didn't know whether the father was aware of the baby, or what relationship the father still has with Beecroft.
Tartan senior Kyle Merth, who described himself as a friend of Beecroft's, said the school's halls were filled with a stunned silence Thursday, instead of the usual student chatter.
"A lot of people really didn't know what to say. 'I can't believe it' - I probably heard that 10 times," Merth said.
Merth described Beecroft as laid back and friendly. "I didn't really believe she would do something like that," Merth said. "You never would have guessed." According to a criminal complaint, St. Paul police received an anonymous tip that Beecroft had given birth to a stillborn baby and thrown it in the garbage at home. A manager at the Cub Foods in the Sun Ray Plaza in St. Paul, where Beecroft worked as a cashier, told police Tuesday that Beecroft had called in sick for the past two days.
Police found a bag of adult diapers in the teen's room. Her mother told police Beecroft was using them because she had lost a lot of blood during her menstrual period.
In a bathroom garbage pail, police found a sanitary napkin or diaper balled up and saturated with blood.
Beecroft told investigators that, while going to the bathroom at 3 a.m. Monday, something "did not feel right." She delivered the baby - reportedly, no one else was in the room - on a towel in the nearby laundry room.
The baby girl was stillborn, Beecroft told officers.
The teen told officers she lay on the towel with the infant for about 10 to 20 minutes before dumping the child in a garbage can next to the house. Investigators on Wednesday found the baby's body in a garbage bag, along with a black-handled knife and some towels.
A Ramsey County medical examiner said the girl had been born alive but had been stabbed 135 times.
When officers confronted Beecroft with the autopsy findings, the complaint states, she admitted she was in a "panic state" and had stabbed the infant. She also told officers that after giving birth, she had seen her baby daughter's finger move.
County Attorney Johnson expressed regret that Beecroft had not taken advantage of a Minnesota law that could have helped her deal with her motherhood.
Called the Safe Place program, it allows a mother to leave an unharmed newborn up to three days old at any hospital in the state anonymously and without fear of prosecution. "She could have walked away," he said.
Relatives at Beecroft's house refused to comment.
Neighbors - who would not give their names - said they stay away from the family and hardly ever interacted with Beecroft. They described her as a bit of a loner who rarely if ever waves to others on the street.
The neighbors described the house as a scene of constant traffic. The family always seemed to have a handful of cars in the driveway, they said, and people often come and go at night, screeching their tires and setting off car alarms.
One man living nearby described Beecroft as a "typical lost teenager." She was a large, heavyset girl, neighbors said, and probably could have hidden a pregnancy without anyone else noticing.
The most recent posting on Beecroft's MySpace page, which appeared to have been posted in February or March, reads:
"I have a boyfriend and I love him very dearly ... i have been with him for about 1 year and 4 months ... i will -- up any bitch that tries messing with him!"
Additionally, the "heroes" category of Beecroft's MySpace page reads: "My hero is my mommy she brought me into this world and if I didn't respect that she would take me right out of this world!"
John Bezek, Tartan High School principal, called the alleged crime "just tragic and unfortunate. Not a lot of words for it."
He said police warned school officials Wednesday of the incident, and officials were sure enough counselors were available to handle the needs of the school's 1,900 students.
Bezek said that, to his knowledge, none of his staff was aware Beecroft was pregnant. She is being held in a Washington County juvenile detention center. Alex Friedrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org