Newborn found dead in Iowa ditch; mother and grandfather charged with murder

The mother and grandfather of a newborn found dead in a ditch in Iowa have been charged with first-degree murder, and Court documents say. They told investigators that the baby was still alive when they put it in the trash and left.

Megan Kay Stude, 25, told police the baby was born at the home on Feb. 24, according to a police affidavit. She told authorities she put it in a box and left it unattended for two days before she and her father, Rodney A. Stude, 64, bagged it.

Allegations of newborn death in Iowa
This mugshot provided by the Warren County Jail shows Megan Studd Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Indianola, Iowa.

/ AP

According to the documents, Rodney Studd also confessed and said he helped his daughter dispose of the bag in a ditch near Norwalk.

The two studs initially told police that the baby died on the way to the hospital after being born, officials said. Megan Studd said she buried him in a cemetery in Cummings, Iowa, but authorities found no evidence of a fresh grave at the cemetery.

Law enforcement officers received a tip from Megan Studd’s co-workers on March 8, which led to the discovery of the body. On March 13, a witness showed authorities a text conversation with Megan Studd, in which the witness asked her, “Was the baby alive when you dropped her off?” And he replied, “A little bit,” the complaint says.

“It’s just a tragic set of circumstances on many levels,” Norwalk Police Chief Greg Staples told The Des Moines Register. “This child did not have the power to decide his own fate and now people are in prison because of it.”

Post-mortem results are pending and investigations are ongoing.

Rodney and Megan Stude are being held in the Warren County Jail on $1 million bond each.

Authorities told the Register that they do not know who the father of the child is.

CBS affiliate KCCI-TV reports The city of Norwalk says the home where the baby was born has been a public nuisance for months. The city claims the home is deteriorating and is not safe to occupy, the station reported.

Neighbors told KCCI that the house has been in disrepair for a long time.

“Run down,” said Des Gott, “in a state of utter disrepair.”

Iowa has one “Safe Haven” Law which allows one to abandon a baby up to 3 months old in a hospital or health care facility without facing legal action.

Safe Haven children are then placed with foster or adoptive families.

According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, “Parents may also contact 911 and relinquish physical custody of the child to the first responder of the 911 call for up to 90 days.”

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