crimesider

Jessica Blackham, Accused of Abandoning Newborn, Didn't Even Know She Was Pregnant, Her Mother Claims

Jessica Blackham, 24, Accused of Abandoning Newborn (WSPA)
(CBS/AP) A woman accused of giving birth in a toilet in a Greenville, South Carolina sports arena - and leaving her baby to die - didn't know she was pregnant and doesn't remember the birth, her mother told a judge in court Wednesday.

"She has not shown any signs of being pregnant whatsoever," Anita McAuliffe said during a bond hearing for her daughter, Jessica Blackham.

Police said Blackham, 24, gave birth to the 6-pound boy and left him in the toilet's cold water Friday night.

Blackham, who is also mother to a 4-year-old child, felt ill during a circus performance and went to the arena's bathroom, her mother said. McAuliffe told the judge that her daughter can't remember what happened next and later went to a hospital and was treated for bleeding.

Blackham was charged Tuesday with one count of felony child abuse and one count of unlawful neglect toward a child. Her bond on both charges was set at $30,000. If convicted of both charges, she could face up to 30 years in prison.

Arena workers found the asphyxiating child and called authorities. Authorities said the infant, who is now in the care of the state Department of Social Services, was in good condition at a hospital.

Authorities would not discuss the identity of the infant's father. Blackham is married but is estranged from her husband, McAuliffe said.

The baby was found suffering from hypothermia, which an expert said is one of the biggest risks for babies born away from medical care. The condition could lead to infection or breathing problems if not treated quickly.

More on Crimesider

Feb. 8, 2011 - Abandoned Newborn Found at S.C. Arena, Condition Improves, Mother Sought


The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App