27 Year Prison Sentence For Minnesota Mother of Dead Newborns
Red Wing, MN (KROC-AM News) - A rural Red Wing woman was sentenced today for a second-degree murder conviction connected to the deaths of two newborn children found dead in the Mississippi River.
A Goodhue County Judge ordered 51-year-old Jennifer Matter to serve a 326-month prison sentence. The prison term matched the presumptive sentence for a second-degree murder conviction under state sentencing guidelines.
Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly responded after today's sentencing hearing,
Today marks the day, after a long 24-years, where justice has been served. Two newborn-babies never had an opportunity to speak, to grow, to learn, to love, and to make an impact in whatever they chose to do. As a parent, the number one unwritten rule of parenthood is to protect your children at all costs. The defendant, the mother of these newborn-babies, betrayed their trust. This betrayal cost two souls from flourishing and a great deal of pain in our community.
Matter entered a guilty plea to the charge in late January after reaching a plea agreement that resulted in the dismissal of another count of second-degree murder. Goodhue County prosecutors also agreed to drop their request for an aggravated sentence in the case.
Her guilty plea stemmed from the death of her newborn son. According to court documents, Matter admitted concealing her pregnancy and then giving birth along the shore of Lake Pepin at Frontenac on December 6, 2003. She admitted placing the infant near the water's edge without clothing or blanket and walking away while the temperature was near freezing. In her confession, Matter admitted getting into her car and driving away with no intention of returning, knowing the newborn would not survive.
She was charged last year after investigators used DNA evidence and genetic genealogy databases to identify Matter as the mother of the newborn boy and a newborn girl who was found dead in the Mississippi River near Red Wing on November 11, 1999. The testing was paid for using donations from Goodhue County residents interested in solving the mystery surrounding the deaths of the babies.
Investigators are still working to identify the parents of a third newborn child who was recovered from the Mississippi River in the casino at the Treasure Island Casino in 2007.