Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

Holly Ashcraft / USC dead baby case - Arrested and charged

Working in law enforcement, we become accustomed to seeing the worst side of human beings on a daily basis. After a while, you begin to accept that people who do bad things exist, and that finding and arresting them --- hopefully before they have a chance to kill someone --- is one of the most important tasks you undertake. However, there are some things that make you shake your head and wonder what in the world is running through people's minds when they commit a crime. This is one of those cases.

The 21-year-old USC student who allegedly abandoned her newborn child in a dumpster was charged this morning with murder and child abuse.

Coroner investigators also reported that preliminary findings indicate the child was born alive.

The alleged mother, Holly Ashcraft, was arrested Tuesday night and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The infant's body was found Tuesday next to a trash bin behind a popular student bar, authorities said.

Proseuctors will seek to double Ashcraft's $1 million bail to $2 million, Deputy Dist. Atty. Efrain Aceves said this morning. Ashcraft reportedly had been suspended from USC because of academic problems, LAPD Capt. Anita Ortega said.

The baby, with his umbilical cord still attached, was uncovered in a cardboard box behind a bar called The 29 at 29th and South Hoover streets just after midnight Monday. Paramedics pronounced the infant dead at the scene.

Police were alerted to the discovery when an anonymous caller dialed 911 from a nearby Ralphs grocery store and reported what he had found.

On Wednesday, authorities said it was the 911 call that led to a break in the case. A woman who heard the 911 tape played on television recognized the caller's voice and persuaded him to cooperate with police, Ortega said. That cooperation led to Ashcraft's arrest.

Ortega thanked the caller for coming forward to police and assisting them with their investigation. "Had it not been for him, I believe the case would have gone unsolved," she said.

An autopsy was performed on the infant's body Tuesday, but the official cause of death will not be determined until toxicology tests are completed.

The infant did not appear to be injured or abused and was thought to be full term.

The bar was closed at the time the body was discovered.

Under state law, a mother who does want to keep her baby can relinquish a newborn to any hospital or fire station with no questions asked.

I emphasized that final line to demonstrate how easy it is to give a baby a chance to live if you believe you cannot take care of it. Dumping it and hoping it dies is not an option.

UPDATE: For those who used a search engine to find this post, please visit this post regarding the charges filed by the LA County DA, as well as the post about the reduction in bail that has everyone bewildered. This portion will be updated as information is made available.

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