South Dakota Woman Convicted of Manslaughter 40 Years After the Discovery of Her Son's Body


A South Dakota woman was convicted of manslaughter Friday in the death of her newborn son whose body was discovered in a ditch 40 years ago.

Theresa Bentaas of Sioux Falls entered an Alford plea to first-degree manslaughter in an agreement with prosecutors in which they dropped two murder charges, the Argus Leader reported.

The Alford plea allows Bentaas to maintain her innocence while also authorizing the court to enter a guilty plea.

Bentaas previously had pleaded not guilty to the three charges.

The newborn known as “Baby Andrew” was found wrapped in a blanket in a cornfield ditch in Sioux Falls in 1981.

Wife of Trump-Russia Hoax Peddler Indicted in US Court, Accused of Being a Foreign Agent

An autopsy determined he died of exposure.

Police arrested Bentaas in March 2019 after investigators reworked the case and determined through advanced DNA testing that she was the mother.

Mike Webb, a Sioux Falls police detective who worked on the cold case, discovered all testable DNA evidence had been destroyed in 1995, according to court documents.

The infant’s body was exhumed in September 2009 after Webb learned that DNA could be extracted from bones and tissue.

North Texas University Science Center conducted lab tests on the DNA that was extracted from the infant’s remains, but no matches were found.

In 2019, police submitted the DNA to a Virginia-based genetics genealogy company, which found two potential matches.

Using those genetic links, police were able to use a family tree that led to Theresa Bentaas.

Investigators found DNA in trash they seized at Bentaas’ house that could not exclude her as the biological mother, according to court documents.

Bentaas is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2 at the Minnehaha County Courthouse.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , ,
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City