Mother Charged in Stillborn Death
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
OCEAN CITY -- Christy Freeman's story seemed to make no sense. The 37-year-old patient with signs of vaginal bleeding, a seven- to eight-month-old placenta in her womb and an irregular cut to the umbilical cord told doctors she hadn't been pregnant.
After questioning her, detectives went to Freeman's house.
Inside a trunk in the living room, they found the remains of two fetuses in two plastic bags and what appeared to be a placenta in a third bag. In a vanity under the bathroom sink, they discovered a 26-week-old, 2 1/2 -pound stillborn child wrapped in a blood-smeared towel. And in the upper section of a Winnebago parked outside were the remains of a fourth tiny body.
Authorities have charged Freeman, a taxicab company owner, with first-degree murder in the death of the stillborn child found in the vanity, under a law that makes it illegal to kill a "viable fetus."
None of this, Freeman said Monday, is what it appears.
"I need to clear my name in this case," she told Worcester County District Court Judge Daniel R. Mumford during a bond hearing.
At times during the hearing, Freeman looked confused. "This is all new to me," she told Mumford at one point. The judge ordered her held without bond.
Joel J. Todd, the state's attorney for Worcester County, said prosecutors believe they know what caused the stillborn to die "in utero." At trial, he said, prosecutors will have to prove that the cause of death was murder, because the law appears to have an exception for self-induced abortion.
Increasingly gruesome details of the case emerged throughout the day Monday in the resort community, drawing national media to Freeman's residence on Sunset Drive, within three blocks of the beach. Freeman lives in an upstairs apartment with her boyfriend, Raymond Godman Jr., and four children, according to Ocean City police.
As swimmers walked by, police and federal agents began an excavation of a vacant lot next to the house in which Freeman lives.
"It's crazy. You don't see things like this, even in D.C.," said a tourist, Butch Kalender, 49, from Arlington County, who first noticed a police commotion around the house last week, when he and his kids went to a sandwich shop for lunch.
Public officials expressed concern that the matter would portray the town in an unfair light. "This is a nice place, not a scene out of the movie 'Deliverance,' " Todd said in an interview.