Interview uncovers mother's actions before giving birth to baby found in trash
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After cramping up, Jessica Price told police last month she went to the bathroom during her shift at a Louisville Kohl's, eventually delivering a baby she said was already dead before panicking and hiding the newborn's body in the trash.
"I got scared and didn't know what else to do," Price, 29, told Louisville Det. Anthony Wilder on Aug. 8, the day the infant was found, saying she was surprised when the newborn "just kind of fell out" into the toilet.
In a video interview released along with other evidence in her murder case, Price said she picked up the child and "it wasn't moving and it wasn't breathing" and "I panicked, I got scared," cleaning up the blood with paper towels and putting the newborn into a trash bag and in the trash can.
But Wilder told Price that police had talked to a woman who was in another stall in the bathroom who said she heard a child crying after what sounded like Price giving birth. Price said she held the baby for a few minutes and didn't see any crying or movement, adding that the newborn's eyes were closed.
Police have said the baby girl appeared to be full-term and healthy and died as a result of an "intentional act" by Price.
Asked by Wilder why she panicked and put the baby in the trash, Price said she didn't have a good reason, but, "I guess, I didn't want anybody to know," noting that she had had a previous miscarriage and didn't know who the father of this child was.
The video interview was released in evidence filed in Price's criminal case, in which she is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. Her attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
After hiding the newborn, Price said she left the bathroom and told a co-worker she was leaving and going to the emergency room, but she instead went home "to try to figure out what I was doing."
She told police she took a shower and tried to regroup, before putting on the same clothes she had been wearing and going back to work a few hours later, planning to tell employees she had a cyst.
"That's the best I could come up with," she said, getting choked up as she spoke with the detective. Midway through the interview, Price asked Wilder whether the infant was a boy or girl. The detective told her the infant was a female.
Price admitted that she went back to the store in hopes of getting the infant out of the trash, though she didn't say what she planned on doing with the body. By then, the infant had been found in the restroom's trash by members of the store's cleaning crew.
When Price arrived back at Kohl's, she saw police and EMS and knew the newborn had been discovered. Detectives soon came to find her after she went back into her office, said Price, who has been released on home incarceration pending her trial.
Police responded to the report of an unresponsive newborn at the Kohl's off Preston Highway and the child was pronounced dead at the scene.
On the morning of Aug. 8, Price said the infant stopped kicking and she began cramping, eventually doubling over in pain shortly after she arrived for her 2 p.m. shift.
Price told Wilder she didn't want anyone to see her, so she went into the bathroom, but co-workers became concerned and began checking on her, one offering to drive her to the emergency room.
Price said she knew she was pregnant for about a month but was not getting prenatal care because she "hadn't had a chance to go," due to her work schedule.
"I've been meaning to but I just kept putting it off," Price said. She didn't tell anybody she had been pregnant.
Police have said they believe the baby was born alive and would be alive today if she provided basic care," Lt. Todd Kessinger, head of the Louisville Metro Police Department's homicide unit, said last month. "The actions she took directly led to the death of the baby."
Court records show the medical examiner could not determine the exact cause of death. But states, "the scene investigation, coupled with the autopsy findings which indicate a live-birth, indicate a homicidal manner of death. Causes of neonaticide which are unlikely to leave findings include drowning, smothering, or strangulation."
Toward the end of the interview, Wilder asked whether Price wanted to give her baby a name to identify her. Price asked if she could decide later. And Wilder asked if Price believed she had done anything wrong.
"I had to have done something wrong to lose the baby, didn't I?" Price asked. "And why did I put it..."
She did not finish the sentence.
Price, who most recently lived in Shepherdsville, has pleaded not guilty.
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