Kimberly L. Ellison, a 21-year-old Fairfax County woman who continued to masquerade as a college student months after her suspension from school, has been charged with attempting to murder a newborn infant she allegedly delivered in a dormitory bathroom.
Prosecutors in Harrisonburg, Va., accused Ellison of giving birth to a full-term baby girl at James Madison University's Shorts Hall on Tuesday morning and then leaving the infant in a closed, plastic trash bag. Both Ellison and the infant were reported in good condition yesterday at a hospital there.
"We're not absolutely certain of the sequence of events," said prosecutor David I. Walsh. "But she tied the top of the trash bag and then took the bag into a small kitchen near the bathroom, placed it in a box commonly used for trash, and left it there."
Fifteen minutes later another dormitory resident, hearing the cry of an infant, discovered the child, Walsh said. The baby was taken by campus police to nearby Rockingham Memorial Hospital, where she remains, he said.
Ellison's home address is listed in a student telephone book as the 6400 block of Girard Court.
"What we've got here is a very unusual situation," said Harold McGee, vice president for student affairs at the state-run university of 8,817 students. "She had appealed an academic suspension and failed . . . but she didn't leave.She was hiding in the dormitory."
According to McGee, Ellison was an economics major and a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She had transferred to Madison last year from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, McGee said. But her grades were poor and she was placed on academic suspension.
Ellison appealed, but the appeal was rejected before the start of the school year, according to McGee. It was not clear yesterday when Ellison formally was notified that her appeal had been rejected. McGee and Madison spokesman Fred Hilton said students who have appealed suspensions routinely are given dorm rooms for the fall term in case their appeal is successful.
Ellison was living in Shorts Hall in October, Hilton said, when her student identification card was revolked. But it was obvious to school officials yesterday, that Ellison had staged an elaborate facade to keep both her pregnancy and suspension secret from her classmates.
"She had her roommates and sorority sisters convinced that she was still a student attending classes," McGee said.
"A lot of her sorority sisters didn't even know she was pregnant" said Cindy Elmore, editor of The Breeze, the campus newspaper.
Students at Shorts Hall, on the southeastern corner of the campus, declined comment, as did members of her sorority. Ellison's parents were reported to be staying near the hospital and could not be reached for comment.
Hilton said he did not believe that Elison was married. Walsh added that Ellison's case will be tried in juvenile and domestic relations court in early January. If convicted of the charge of attempted murder, she could face a sentence of one to 20 years.