Police: Springetts woman hid death of her newborn baby

Liz Evans Scolforo

A Springettsbury Township woman who told police she had no idea she was pregnant gave birth at home and hid her newborn in a shoebox, according to police.

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Kelsey N. Martin, 21, of East 11th Avenue, has not yet been arraigned on her single count of concealing the death of a child, according to court records. Springettsbury Township Police filed the first-degree misdemeanor charge Jan. 28, records state.

York County Chief Deputy Coroner Claude Stabley said Martin's newborn daughter is believed to have been full term.

The cause and manner of the baby's death have been ruled undetermined, he said, because CPR was performed on the child after she was found.

"That makes it very difficult to determine whether the baby actually breathed on her own," Stabley said, and therefore also difficult to determine whether the baby was alive when she was born.

Defense attorney Chris Ferro described the situation as a "horrible, but explainable, tragedy."

The allegations: On April 10, Martin went to York Hospital for abdominal pain, where she was diagnosed with a urinary-tract infection and given antibiotics, according to charging documents.

Shortly after 10 p.m. the same day, an ambulance was called to Martin's home, where an ambulance crew found her in a bathtub, bleeding heavily, documents state.

Martin denied being pregnant, or having been pregnant, and was taken to York Hospital by ambulance, police said.

A few hours later, a York Hospital nurse called police to report that an examination determined Martin had given birth, "but there was no baby," according to documents.

Police rushed to Martin's home, where she lives with her grandparents, and spoke with a family member who also was in contact with the hospital. Officers and family were there to find the baby and see if she was still alive, according to police.

The family member led police upstairs and told them the baby was "in a box," documents state.

Found in shoebox: Two shoeboxes were found stacked in a bedroom closet, according to police, who said one of the boxes contained bloodstained clothing.

Charging documents state the family member opened the second box and said, "Oh my God!" as he lifted the newborn from the box.

"(He) said the infant was warm, but did not appear to be breathing," documents state. "An ambulance was summoned and CPR was initiated by (the family member) and officers."

After medics arrived, it was determined the baby was dead, police said.

Martin later told police she had no idea she was pregnant, and that "the baby just started coming out," according to documents.

"Martin said the baby ... wasn't breathing, so she picked the baby up and held it in front of her, gently shaking it, trying to get it to breathe or make some kind of noise," documents state. "Martin said when the baby didn't make noise, she panicked and placed the baby in a shoebox."

'Wonderful' girl: Ferro, the defense attorney, provided The York Dispatch with a statement in which he says police investigated thoroughly and fairly.

"We accept the initial charging decision of the York County district attorney and look forward to finding a resolution that accomplishes justice but does not utterly destroy a wonderful young girl," he wrote, and asked the public not to prejudge Martin harshly.

"There will be those who read the facts contained within the initial charging documents and immediately hold up this 20-year-old to scorn," Ferro wrote. "Those individuals are not privy to all the facts and circumstances of this case. ... This is a highly emotional case and I would only ask that the public withhold final judgment and respect Kelsey's family and her presumption of innocence."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.