Baby killing charges against Solon teen shock town
By ERIN JORDAN
REGISTER IOWA CITY BUREAU
Solon residents were shocked Monday to learn that a quiet, studious Solon High School graduate was charged with killing her newborn baby by throwing her down a garbage chute in a Florida resort.
Ashley Truitt, 18, was charged Monday with first-degree murder in Broward County, Fla., after staff in a Pompano Beach resort found a newborn baby girl dead in a trash bin Saturday morning. Truitt, who participated in Solon High School graduation on May 20, apparently hid her pregnancy from her parents, boyfriend and others in the community.
“We’re all just kind of in shock,” said Solon High School Principal Bob Lesan. “I just hope she gets the help she needs. It will be a tough time for her and her family.”
Truitt, who was vacationing at the Wyndham Resort with her parents, younger brother and boyfriend, gave birth to the baby around 4:30 a.m. Saturday in the condominium bathroom, according to an affidavit filed by the Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department.
Truitt walked down the hallway on the building’s seventh floor and threw a bag containing the infant down a garbage chute, Broward County reported. An autopsy report shows the child died of blunt force trauma to the head, likely caused by falling seven stories into a ground floor garbage bin.
Wyndham Resort staff called police around 9:30 a.m. Saturday when they found large amounts of blood and a paring knife on the seventh floor, police reported. “Deputies saw the blood trail leading from room 785,” said Hugh Graf, a public information officer for Broward County.
Jason Black, Truitt’s boyfriend of about one year, told police he was awakened around 4 a.m. Saturday when he heard water running in the bathtub. When he looked up from bed, he observed Truitt, clad in towels, walking toward the door of the condominium unit.
Black followed Truitt, observing a trail of blood down the hallway, police said. Black saw his girlfriend enter a trash chute room, but when he attempted to open the door to the room, she prevented him from doing so, police said. Black confronted Truitt about the blood and she said she was having her period, police reported.
“Ashley dismissed Jason and he returned to unit #785,” the affidavit states. Truitt came back to the room 10 minutes later and did not offer any more information to Black, police reported.
Truitt later told investigators that she hid the pregnancy from her parents and Black, whom she did not think was the father of the child. She said she began to experience labor pains around midnight and at around 4:30 a.m. gave birth to the infant girl in the bathroom, police reported.
The baby was breathing and crying upon birth, Truitt told investigators. She used a kitchen paring knife to cut the umbilical cord. Truitt told investigators she was bleeding heavily as she walked down to the garbage chute room, where she delivered the placenta.
Once inside the garbage chute room, Truitt placed the baby in a bag that contained towels, she told investigators. Truitt “refused to elaborate on the disposal of the infant down the trash chute,” the affidavit states.
Truitt’s parents, Raymond and Patricia Truitt, told investigators they had concerns their daughter was pregnant. Raymond Truitt said he noticed his daughter had gained weight, but when he confronted her about being pregnant, she denied it, the affidavit states.
Patricia Truitt said she had the same suspicions and had noticed her daughter wearing loose clothing.
But Solon residents who had seen Ashley Truitt less than two weeks prior said they could not tell the slender teen was pregnant.
“She went to graduation,” Lesan said about Solon’s May 20 graduation ceremony. “She walked across the stage, but with the robe and stuff, she hid the pregnancy from us as well.”
Jeff Barta, who lives next door to the Truitts in Solon, said he would never have guessed when he saw Truitt at her graduation party that she was close to giving birth. “There was no way you could tell,” Barta said.
Lesan described Truitt as a quiet, studious girl who did not get involved in activities at Solon High School.
“She was a quiet young lady who came to school and did her work,” Lesan said.
Truitt completed her course work in January so she could work to save money for college, he said. Barta said Truitt planned to go to culinary school at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.
Truitt is being held without bond in a Broward County jail, Graf said. Conviction of first-degree murder in Florida is punishable by the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Nicole Plum, a Chelsea, Ia., teenager spent about three years in prison after abandoning her infant girl in the snow near the city’s water tower, where the baby was found dead in February 2001. Plum, who was 17 when she gave birth, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter. She was approved for parole in 2005.
The death of Plum’s child, who became known as “Baby Chelsea,” prompted the Iowa Legislature to approve a safe-haven law that grants immunity from prosecution to parents who leave unwanted babies in the care of health facilities. Florida has a similar safe haven law.
Reporter Erin Jordan can be reached at (319) 351-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.