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Vermont Police Identify Parents of Infant Found Dead by Schoolchildren in 1982

cold case infant
Source: UNSPLASH

Jun. 2 2024, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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More than 40 years after schoolchildren waiting for a bus found the body of a dead infant, Vermont State Police say they have identified the baby's parents and closed the case with no charges.

On April 1, 1982, a group of children waiting for a school bus on what was then called Mill Hill Road, now Gillespie Road, in Northfield found the body of a baby boy just off the road. At the time, the Northfield Police chief requested the assistance of the Vermont State Police.

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Although the infant was found to be full-term, Vermont Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Paul Morrow was unable to determine whether the baby died before or after birth. Morrow identified "existing medical conditions," but was unable to determine whether they were the cause of death.

Although the death was not officially classified as a homicide, state police said they continued treating it as such until it could be definitively ruled out. Baby Doe was named Matthew Isaac by Rev. Frank E. Wisner III at St. Mary's Church in Northfield, and a funeral was held.

There were no leads on the baby's true identity or parentage. DNA testing was not available in 1982, but blood and tissue samples from the baby's autopsy were kept on file.

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In 2020, Vermont State Police partnered with Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based DNA technology company, to analyze the evidence again. They found a female's DNA sample "from swabs of the infant and items he had been found bundled in." In December 2021, Parabon identified a possible biological mother and father.

The parents were located in Maine, and with assistance from Maine State Police, the Vermont State Police obtained DNA samples that confirmed they were Matthew Isaac Doe's parents.

Vermont State Police said the parents agreed to provide statements. The father, who was not named, told police that he had left Vermont in 1982 and had no knowledge of the pregnancy or the deceased infant.

The mother told police that she did not known she was pregnant. When she began to feel abdominal pain she initially thought she was ill, but soon realized she was in labor. She said she labored alone for several hours and lost consciousness. When she came to, she found she had delivered a baby boy, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and he was dead.

She said she wanted to give the baby a proper burial, and carried him into the woods to find a place. She said she became scared when she thought she heard voices and turned to run away but slipped. The baby fell from her arms and she continued running, never to return to the area.

Although the woman admitted improperly disposing of the body, Washington County State’s Attorney Michelle Donnelly determined the statute of limitations had run out, and no charge was filed.

Because no criminal charges were filed, police said the names of Matthew Isaac's parents would not be released.

TMX contributed to this report.

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