NORWALK, IOWA — Court records show a Norwalk woman and her father admitted to police that a baby boy was still alive when they placed it in a trash bag, before they disposed of the body in a rural ditch.
Megan Staude, 25, and her father, 64-year-old Rodney Staude, are each charged with First Degree Murder for the death of the newborn last month. Police say Megan Staude lied to them at first in their investigation before both she and her father admitted to their roles in the baby’s death.
According to an arrest report, co-workers of Megan Staude contacted police on March 8th with concerns about her baby. Staude told police that she had given birth at home and the baby died on the way to the hospital. She says she then buried the baby at cemetery in Cumming, Iowa. But when police searched the cemetery, they say they found no signs of a recent burial.
The documents show that when authorities interviewed Rodney Staude, he told authorities that he returned home from work a few weeks prior and found that his daughter had given birth. As he drove her and the baby to a hospital in Des Moines, the baby died, he claimed. He then placed the baby in a garbage bag and left the infant in a rural ditch, according to the report.
Authorities searched the area with a cadaver dog and recovered the remains of a newborn baby boy.
In a subsequent interview with police on Monday, Megan Staude told authorities that she had given birth to the boy at home on February 24th. She says she placed her son in a box and did not “touch nor provide care to the baby” for two days as he cried in the box, according to the report. On February 26th, Megan Staude says she and her father placed the baby in a garbage bag. The baby was still alive and moving when they closed the bag, according to police, and stopped moving after several moments in the garbage bag.
Norwalk Police Chief Greg Staples told WHO 13 News, “Whenever a child dies, it’s always difficult. It’s terrible that it happened.”
He thanked investigators for efforts to recover the baby. “Standing out there in a snowstorm, looking through the woods and brush on the side of the road…those things aren’t easy to do.”
Staples concluded with a message for those in his community who are in mourning. “Take care of each other and offer assistance and do what you can do to help everybody live safe, happy and healthy lives. Unfortunately, in this case, the help was available but wasn’t taken.”
Iowa’s Safe Haven Act allows a parent or guardian to drop off an infant up to 90 days old at a hospital or health care facility. 58 children have been declared safe havens since the law began in 2002, according to Kelly Garcia, the director of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.
Authorities do not know who the father of the child is at this time. Paternity tests are pending to determine fatherhood. Megan and Rodney Staude are both due in court again on March 24th for a preliminary hearing. They are being held on $1 million bond each.