Genetic Genealogy Connects Minnesota Woman To Decades-Old Cold Cases Of 2 Newborns Found Dead, Officials Say

babies deaths
Source: Goodhue County Sheriff's Office; UNSPLASH

May 10 2022, Published 2:23 p.m. ET

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A Minnesota woman is under arrest in connection to two newborns who were abandoned and died four years apart, authorities said.

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On May 9, deputies with the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office took Jennifer Lynn Matter, 50, into custody and charged her with two counts of second-degree murder, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

On Dec. 7, 2003, a baby boy was discovered dead in Lake Pepin at the Methodist Campus Beach in Frontenac, officials said.

A criminal complaint states the male infant “was born alive and shortly after the birth the defendant placed the child in a situation likely to cause the child's death by abandoning the infant on an isolated beach without care, food, clothing, or protection in winter conditions.”

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A second baby, a newborn girl, was found dead four years earlier, on Nov. 4, 1999, in the Lower Boat Harbor of the Mississippi River near Red Wing.

Investigators at the time were unable to determine who abandoned the children and their cases went cold — until recently.

child killed

“While exhaustive investigative efforts over the years did not lead to a suspect, a recent effort to learn about the babies' parentage through genetic genealogy resulted in a lead that ultimately led investigators to Matter,” officials said.

A court ordered DNA sample then confirmed Matter was the mother of both children, according to officials.

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"The tenacity of several investigators in our office to obtain justice for these babies and the perseverance by our community who assisted us in finding answers have led us here today," Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly said. “We pray today's arrest and charges provide some closure to all of those effected."

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans noted that advances in genetic genealogy and rapid DNA testing “can aid investigations are happening all the time” and “that is why it is so important to never give up on any unsolved case."


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