The grandfather and mother of a baby boy found dead outside of Norwalk allegedly placed the newborn in a trash bag while he was still alive and then discarded the bag in a ditch, according to recently released court documents.
Norwalk police arrested the grandfather, Rodney A. Staude, 64, and the baby’s mother, Megan K. Staude, 25, on Monday for first-degree murder.
On Monday, Megan Staude allegedly confessed to police that she gave birth at home on Feb. 24, put her son in a box and did not provide care, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case against her father. Megan Staude allegedly told police that after two days, she and her father placed the baby in a trash bag while he was still alive.
Rodney Staude also allegedly confessed the same to police. He said they disposed of the body while it was in the bag, according to the complaint.
“It’s just a tragic set of circumstances on a number of levels,” said Norwalk police chief Greg Staples, who declined to comment on the specifics of the case. “That baby didn’t have the choice to decide his own fate and now there’s people in jail because of it.”
The newly released court documents detail how the mother and grandfather allegedly lied to police about how the newborn died in the days leading up to their arrest.
Law enforcement officials responded to a tip called in from Megan Staude’s coworkers on March 8 regarding the health and safety of her newborn baby, according to the criminal complaint. At the time, Staude allegedly told Norwalk police the baby died while on the way to the hospital and that she buried him at the St. Johns Cemetery in Cumming.
After searching the cemetery, the complaint states officers “did not notice any disturbed ground or signs of a fresh burial.”
Rodney Staude originally told law enforcement he had no knowledge of the baby’s death, the complaint says. But a day later, he allegedly told officials his daughter had given birth a few weeks prior but the baby died on the way to a Des Moines-area hospital. He said he then placed the deceased baby in a plastic bag and disposed of the body “in a ditch south of Norwalk,” according to the complaint. He took police to the 5300 block of Delaware Street where, using a cadaver dog, they discovered the deceased newborn’s body in a tied trash bag.
Police issued a search warrant of the family home in Norwalk, where they found signs that a birth had taken place there. A witness also shared a text conversation with Megan Staude, in which the witness asked her “was the baby alive when you left him?” and she replied “a little,” the complaint says.
The results of an autopsy are pending and the investigation is ongoing.
The Staudes were booked into the Warren County Jail on Monday. Rodney Staude has a $1 million bond. Bond information for Megan Staude was not immediately available. If convicted, they face a life sentence.
Previously:Mother, grandfather charged with murder after newborn found dead outside Norwalk
What is Iowa’s safe haven law for newborns?
Under Iowa law, a parent, or someone with a parent’s permission, may leave an infant up to 90 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of legal action for abandonment, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
A parent also can call 911 and give the child to a first responder. Parents who relinquish their children under the Safe Haven Act are not required to give identification.
Iowa’s safe haven law has been in place since 2002 after a teenager in Chelsea gave birth and left the newborn in a snowbank the year prior.
More than 50 newborns have received the safe haven status under the law, according to the human services department.
Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at FBlock@registermedia.com or on Twitter at @francescablock3.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa mother, grandfather accused of putting baby in bag on roadside