Cassidy Goodson, 14, of Lakeland, Fla., a ninth-grader at Kathleen High School, has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse after she allegedly choked her newborn to death while it was still attached to her by the umbilical cord.
According to a press release by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, she then stuffed the dead body in a shoebox and left it to decompose in her bedroom till the odor alerted members of her family.
Warning: Graphic story, reader discretion is strongly advisedThe Daily Mail reports that shortly after Cassidy gave birth to the baby in the bathroom, her mother, Teresa Goodson, noticed blood in the toilet and took her to the Lakeland Hospital. Cassidy told her mother and the hospital staff that she had suffered a miscarriage. She claimed that she accidentally flushed the fetus down the toilet after it was born.
But after lacerations were found in her vaginal wall that appeared self-inflicted, hospital staff called Polk County sheriff's deputies and officials of the Florida Department of Children and Families and gave them details of the case for closer investigation.
The facts of the case came to light gradually. A few days after Cassidy gave birth, deputies received a call that the body of a full-term baby had been found inside a shoebox at the girl's residence. According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Cassidy's mother detected the odor while collecting dirty laundry in her daughter's room.
Cassidy had given birth to the baby on September 19, unaided. She told detectives she began feeling sick on Sep. 17, and two day later, she went into the bathroom. To hide her moans during labor, she clenched with her teeth on a towel and ran the water.
She delivered the baby in the bathroom and used a pair of scissors to pry it out into the toilet. She then lifted the baby out of the toilet and felt for its pulse. When she found one, she placed her hand on the infant's neck and squeezed until it stopped moving and breathing.
She then bathed herself and the dead baby, cleaned the bathroom and concealed the dead baby, the soiled towel and clothing in a shoebox.
The baby, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office press release, was rather large, reportedly weighing almost 10 pounds and measuring 20 inches long. Autopsy confirmed the baby was full term and that it was a live-birth. The cause of death was determined as "asphyxia from strangulation and blunt force trauma."
According to officials, Cassidy is a tiny girl who weighs 100 pounds and is about 5 ft 3 inches tall.
The Polk Country Sheriff's Office reports Cassidy said she killed the child because she "didn't know what to do with it." The Daily Mail reports she told detectives she was forced to kill the baby because she was afraid that "her relationship with her parents would change if they found out the truth."
According to The Huffington Post, Cassidy wore baggy clothes during the course of her pregnancy to hide the fact from her family.
However, two aunts grew suspicious of her appearance and attempted to alert her mother to the possibility that she was pregnant. But according to The Ledger, Sheriff Grady Judd said that although the two aunts suspected Cassidy was pregnant, her mother, Teresa Goodson, "was in complete denial."
Cassidy reportedly showed her mother two home pregnancy tests she conducted that returned negative as evidence that she was not pregnant when suspicion grew. The Ledger, however, reports that Sheriff Grady Judd said Cassidy conducted the tests alone because "her mother wanted to protect her daughter's privacy."
The sheriff expressed the opinion that Cassidy Goodson's young age should be taken into account in passing judgment on her actions. He said: "Let's remember she is a child. Where was her support system?"
The Huffington Post reports prosecutors are considering whether to charge her as an adult. The prosecutors are also considering the option of charging adult members of her family instead.
The Blaze reports detectives are also working to determine the father of the baby. They said they have an idea of his identity but that they need confirmation.
According to the sheriff, Cassidy showed little emotion when she was interviewed. The Ledger reports that North Lakeland Little League President Bubba Garcia, said she is a skilled softball player and that she has played on several youth teams. Garcia said "she is pretty good" in the infield and as a catcher. According to Garcia, there had been rumors rumors that she was pregnant.
The Ledger reports circuit Judge Mark Carpanini ordered her to remain in secure detention. She will be represented by a public defender.
Polk County Public Information officer, Donna Wood, told the Daily Mail: "This is the most perplexing, confusing, disheartening case I've ever seen in my 18 years on this job. Everyone has been touched by it."