An Alabama woman was arrested on suspicion of abusing the corpse of a baby found buried in her backyard.
According to WAFF, the baby’s body was discovered in a cooler outside of 21-year-old Karrah Proctor’s home in Hartselle, Alabama.
The suspect’s mother reportedly found the body in September and contacted local authorities, who later indicated the baby had likely been buried at the location several weeks prior to its discovery. The cause of death could not initially be determined due to the condition of the body.
Based on size, investigators say the baby appeared to have been a newborn, just shy of full term, at the time of death. Sheriff Ana Franklin noted that examiners could not determine the baby’s sex.
Though the deceased could not be identified forensically in any definitive way, WAAY reported that Proctor is believed to have been the baby’s mother.
Reports indicate Proctor’s mother did not share a residence with the suspect, but lived nearby when she discovered the baby buried outside. She has declined requests from local media for a comment on the matter.
According to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, investigators are still unsure whether the baby was stillborn or killed following a live birth.
Lt. Terry Kelly said Proctor’s mother “became concerned and went out looking around in the yard.”
Police reports indicate a neighbor told her Proctor had been seen digging a hole in the backyard of her residence.
The mother reportedly discovered the location of the buried Igloo cooler after finding an area near a shed where there had been some apparent digging.
Following an investigation, Kelly told reporters that it became clear Proctor’s “actions were suspicious” not only on the night she allegedly buried the baby’s body, but in the behavior leading up to that event.
“Apparently, she didn’t tell anybody about the birth or that she was pregnant,” he said.
WAAY spoke to neighbors who expressed shock and dismay over the grisly discovery and Proctor’s arrest.
“That’s what you do to a dog, but to a baby? That’s pretty bad,” said James Orr.
Proctor has reportedly told investigators that the child was stillborn, though Orr argued that defense hardly excuses the way the body was handled.
“The baby should have a proper burial,” he said. “It’s sad.”
Should investigators find the child was born alive and harmed, Franklin confirmed that charges against Proctor could be upgraded if appropriate.
“Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t determine if the baby was born alive or stillborn,” Kelly added. “Since we can’t determine if there was foul play, we’re left with the abuse of a corpse charge.”
As Proctor awaits her felony trail, she was released from Morgan County Jail on $2,500 bail.
Orr said the recent revelations provided a tragic reminder that anyone can be hiding a dark side, even from those close to them.
“You just never know what goes on behind closed doors,” he said. “You thought you’d know your neighbors. It doesn’t matter if they’re 5-6 houses down the road, but you don’t know them.”
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