Thursday, October 17, 2019

Darcie Jo Baum, Serial Baby-Killing Mom – Utah, 1999


FULL TEXT: Provo – A newborn baby found dead in the Provo River will be buried Monday by strangers.

While circumstances surrounding the infant’s death remain a mystery, employees of the Utah County division of indigent services are seeing that the burial does not pass unnoticed.

“We took the exception to this case,” said Carlyn Brathwaite,” office manager. “It was so weird. … We feel really sad. We’re really sorry for that person out there. They are probably hurting really bad. We just wish someone would come forward.”

The indigent services program purchased a grave site for Baby Doe in the babyland plot at the Provo City Cemetery. The county also will pay for a coffin and burial services.

[“Strangers plan baby’s funeral,” The Daily Spectrum (Saint George Ut.), Mar. 6, 1992, p. 5A]

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FULL TEXT: Highland – A jogger found a dead fetus [sic] at the mouth of American Fork Canyon Tuesday afternoon.

Alpine/ Highland Police Department Lt. Dave McManus said he didn’t know the sex of the fetus or how long it might have been at the old Highland Park, located at the trailhead of the American Fork Canyon Trail.

But the police lieutenant revealed that investigators already have what they hope will be a significant lead: a unique, hand-tied quilt the baby may have been wrapped in.

The quilt had plain red material on one side, while the other side is decorated with a checkerboard pattern of white squares. The quilt is tied with red yarn.

“The quilt was found in the area of the crime scene, and we hope someone will be able to recognize it,” McManus said. “It was hand-tied, and maybe someone gave it as a gift.”

The lieutenant said the human fetus may be a full-term newborn. He said it was found 15 to 20 feet away from the American Fork River in an area where it could be missed by people visiting the old park. The jogger came across the baby around 4 p. m.

McManus said it’s possible the fetus may have been in the area for as long as a week before being discovered Tuesday.

McManus said the next step is for the medical examiner to see what he can tell police. He also said investigators will check with local hospitals in case the mother of the child may have gone to a hospital.

[Pat Christian, “Baby’s body found’ Police search A. F. Canyon for clues,” The Daily Herald (Provo, Ut.), Aug. 5, 1998, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: Provo – Orem resident Darcie Jo Baum, arrested Aug. 14 in connection with the death and abandonment of her newborn baby, received permission Thursday  to attend her baby’s funeral today.

Fourth District Court Judge Ray Harding granted Baum’s request, but said she must be accompanied by a sheriff’s deputy. The baby’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a. m. in Pleasant Grove.

Since her arrest following the discovery of an abandoned and decomposing newborn at Old Highland Park at the mouth of American Fork Canyon. Baum, 25, has been held in the Utah County Jail on $50,000 cash-only bail.

In court Thursday, deputy county prosecutor Curtis Larson objected to a suggestion by public defender Randy Spencer that Baum’s mother pick her up at jail and take her to the funeral.

“This is very uncomfortable to me,” Larson said, pointing out the high bail amount and saying Baum might flee to avoid prosecution.

Larson said he didn’t want to appear dispassionate, but he told the court Baum wasn’t all that concerned with her baby when she abandoned it.

Spencer, who was appointed to represent Baum only hours before Thursday’s court appearance, spoke with his client and later her parents. He told reporters his client is “extremely concerned about her baby sand attending the funeral.”

He said it appears prosecutors are still intent on pursuing homicide charges, although his client was arrested for desecration of a body and has not been officially charged with any other crime.

County prosecutors aren’t ready to file charges, Larson told Harding, because the Utah County Attorney’s Office hasn’t yet taken over the investigation from the Alpine/Highland Police Department. With no charges filed yet, Baum’s felony first appearance was continued until 8 a. m. on Aug. 27.

Alpine/Highland Police Department Chief Kip Botkin on Thursday said investigators are still finishing all the paperwork involved in the case.

“This is not an easy case and we want to make sure we have all the information possible,” Botkin said.

Asked if investigators have all the lab work back from an autopsy performed on the baby, the chief said, “Obviously, we don’t have everything we need yet.”

The chief said he won’t say why, but he believes the baby was already dead when it was abandoned near the canyon.

[Pat Christian, “Judge Grants Orem mother permission to attend baby’s funeral," The Daily Herald (Provo, Ut.), Aug. 21, 1998, p. A2]

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FULL TEXT: Provo – An Orem mother arrested in connection with the death of her newborn child was freed Thursday.

Darcie Jo Baum, 25, had spent 13 days in the Utah County Jail because she was unable to post the $50,000 bail.

But at a waiver hearing Thursday morning in 4th District Court during which Baum was expected to be charged, Urah County Attorney Kay Bryson told a judge his office wasn’t prepared to file criminal charges. Baum was then ordered to be released.

Ten days after a decomposing newborn was found Aug. 4 at the mouth of American Fork Canyon, a hand-tied quilt found at the scene led police to Baum as a suspect.

She was arrested for desecration of a body, and police and county prosecutors said they were investigating the death as a homicide. Baum, however, was never officially charged.

It appeared Baum delivered her daughter at a residence in Orem and then abandoned the infant at Old Highland Park, Alpine/Highland Police Department Chief Kip Botkin said the day of her arrest.

Baum was briefly freed from Jail Aug. 21 when, accompanied by a sheriff’s deputy, she attended gravesite services for her baby at a cemetery in Pleasant Grove.

Prosecutors opposed her public defender’s request to attend the funeral with family members because they were worried she might flee. Earlier, they said they wanted Baum held in jail on $50,000 cash only bail, and their request was granted.

But things were different Thursday, when Bryson appeared in court empty-handed and Judge Ray M. Harding released Baum.

Bryson told reporters his office is still investigating the newborn’s death as a homicide but wasn’t ready to file charges might be filed.

He said a number of medical issues have complicated the case.

Fropm his office in Alpine, Botkin confirmed his department hasn’t yet assembled everything prosecutors need.

But, he said, “This case is not over, Absolutely not.”

[Pat Christian, “Mother of dead baby released from jail; Prosecutor not yet ready to file charges,” The Daily Herald (Oren, Ut.), Aug. 28, 1998, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: Provo – An Orem mother will go to trial for dumping her newborn baby girl near the mouth of American Fork Canyon last July.

Darcie Jo Baum appeared in court in Provo yesterday, and district judge Anthony W. Schofield set a two-day trial for March 24-25.

The 4th District Court judge also declined to arbitrate a defense motion filed by public defender Randall K. Spencer that could let her off.

The 25-year-old woman is charged with the third-degree felony of desecrating a human body, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

She also faces a Class B misdemeanor of marijuana possession.

Spencer’s motion calls for the court calls for the court to put down Schofield’s January ruling that bound Baum over for trial. He claims prosecutors failed to come up with enough evidence at the January preliminary hearing to establish sufficient probable cause to send her to trial.

On Wednesday, Schofield deferred a ruling on the motion to Judge Donald L. Eyre, indicating he has a conflict.

“If I rule, I would be ruling on my own ruling,” Schofield said.

Alpine/Highland police investigators and prosecutors originally investigated the death of a baby girl as a homicide after a jogger discovered the baby’s body Aug. 4 at the old Highland Park near the mouth of the canyon.

But prosecutors finally charged Baum with the third-degree felony, saying the baby girl’s body was too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death.

Baum is free while awaiting court proceedings.

Bail had been set at $50,000 and spent 13 days in jail in August, but she was freed after prosecutors failed to file charges in time.

During the preliminary hearing last month, a police detective testified thatr Baum told him she had delivered the dead baby in her shower in Orem and later placed the body in a plastic garbage bag before taking it to the park.

[Pat Christian, “Baum will go to trial for dumping baby’s body by canyon’s mouth,” The Daily Herald (Oren, Ut.), Feb. 18, 1999, p. A3]

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FULL TEXT: Orem – The double death Tuesday morning of Darcie Jo Baum and her newborn son is being investigated as homicide, Orem District Attorney Gary Downey said Thursday.

“We’re investigating it as a homicide, and if the child was breathing or born alive, then it could be a homicide,” the detective said.

“And if she (Darcie) died from childbirth that would be from natural causes.”

Preliminary results from a Wednesday autopsy showed that the child had some air in his lungs, indicating he took at lead Preliminary results from a Wednesday autopsy showed that the child had some air in his lungs, indicating he took at least one breath.

But on Thursday, Downey said he’s waiting for further results that could reveal what caused the baby’s death.

The 26-year-old mother was found dead at 10:30 a. m. Tuesday in her apartment on 1935 S. Columbia Lane.

A few feet away in the bathroom, police found her newborn son dead inside the toilet.

~ Awaiting trial ~

Baum had been awaiting a Sept. 30 criminal trial in the July 28, 1998, death of her newborn daughter. The girl was born in the shower of the same apartment and later abandoned at a park in Highland police said.

A hiker found the dead newborn on Aug. 4, 1998 and an investigation led to Baum, who was charged with the third-degree felony of desecration of a human being.

Police searching her apartment after the first infant’s death also found marijuana. She was also charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone.

“I also still don’t know who the father is (of the dead boy),” Downey said Thursday.

Downey said he’s interviewed the father of Baum’s 4-year-old son. Draye, who was also identified in court documents as the father of the newborn girl found in the park.

But he said he doesn’t believe the father of the latest newborn.

As happened last time, police believe Baum’s friends and family were not aware she has been pregnant.

~ Talking to friends ~

Downey said he also talked to another boyfriend, but has not yet been able to talk to the latest person identified as being Baum’s boyfriend.

Downey DNA samples were taken of the child that could help identify the father.

Baum’s 4-year-old child was home with his dead mother and sibling, and is temporarily being cared for by Baum’s sister.

Downey and Virginia Blanchard, a police victim’s advocate worked with Baum’s family, say more than likely Draye’s natural father would have custody rights down the road.

Downey said no illegal drugs were found at the apartment this week.

“We didn’t even find any prescription drugs,” Downey said.

“The house was a clean and well kept home, really clean,” he said.

Apparently the bodies have been released to the family for burial.

In an obituary prepared with the help with the help of family members, funeral arrangements were announced.

The obituary confirmed that Baum was born in American Fork, graduated from the high school there and loved making scrap books, collecting Harley Davidson memorabilia and watching the Utah Jazz and Dallas Cowboys play.

[Pat Christian, “Police considering homicide in deaths of mother, baby; Investigators say Baum’s family, friends may not have known she was pregnant again,” The Daily Herald (Oren, Ut.), Aug. 27, 1999, p. A3]

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FULL TEXT: Provo – Yet another death of a newborn baby has been linked to the late Darcie Jo Baum.

Provo police say a new DNA match closes an old case concerning a newborn baby that was found in the Provo River on Feb. 22, 1992.

An Aug. 24 of this year, the 26-year old mother bled to death after delivering her newborn son in the toilet of her Orem apartment.

An autopsy revealed her baby was born alive and probably drowned.

At the time of those deaths, Baum was awaiting a September trial for the death of her newborn daughter the previous year.

That newborn’s body was found by a hiker in Old Highland Park, at the mouth of American Fork canyon.

Baum was arrested for homicide, but a medical report said the body was too decomposed to determine what caused its death or if the newborn was even born alive.

Prosecutors could only charge Baum with desecration of a human body, a third-degree felony.

On Thursday, a Provo Police Capt. Keith Teuscher said DNA tests and interviews with Baum’s family had led investigators to conclude the baby found in the river was also likely Baum’s daughter.

Teuscher said the 1992 death remained an open homicide investigation, but is now considered closed.

A Daily Herald story, published the day after the Provo River baby was found, reported that the baby had been discovered by a man fishing at 500 North West, Provo.

The newborn’s gloating body had gotten caught on twigs in the river, the story said.

Teuscher said investigators had little to go on at the time, because the body was in bad condition, and state medical examiners couldn’t determine how the baby died or how long it had been in the river.

Investigators called the victim “Baby Jane,” and she was buried in the Provo Cemetery in an area known as Babyland.

Teuscher said news of the other deaths connected to Baum led investigators to wonder if there might be a link to the unsolved homicide.

Other police departments and the county attorneys office has also suggested investigating Baum on the outside chance there might be a tie, Teuscher said.

“But we really didn’t have anything we could go to court with tio get a tissue sample,” he said.

Teuscher said that it took Baum’s death to open that door.

About a week ago, after the University of Utah’s DNA diagnostic laboratory told investigators there was a 99.33 percent chance Baum was Baby Jane’s mother, investigators started interviewing the woman’s parents and others.

“We learned she had been in the area and would have been 18 (years old),” Teuscher said.

Asked iof the parents were surprised by their daughter’s link to Baby Jane, Teuscher said, “I don’t want to talk about what they said, but yes, this was all news to them, and they had no idea she had been pregnant at the time.”

Teuscher also indicated he believes this is the end of cases involving Baum.

[Pat Christian, “Baum linked to third death,” The Herald (Provo, Ut.), Nov. 5, 1999, p. 1]

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CHRONOLOGY
Aug. 1, 1973 – Darcie Jo Baum, born.
Feb. 22, 1992 – body of newborn found floating in Provo River. Called “Baby Jane” by police in open homicide investigation.
1993 – son Draye born, is allowed to live.
Jul. 1998 – body of newborn girl found, American Fork Canyon.
Aug. 4, 1998 – arrested.
Aug. 21, 1998 – funeral for baby; Baum attends, with court permission.
Aug. 27, 1998 – relased; insufficient evidence to charge.
Oct. 27, 1998 – charged with desecrating a body.
Aug. 24, 1999 – gives birth, drowns baby in toliet; dies from blood loss.
Oct. 19, 1999 – report by the University of Utah's DNA Diagnostic Laboratory.
Nov. 4, 1999 – announcement that DNA links Baum to “Baby Jane.”

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For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.

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