Discovery of dead newborn leads to mother’s arrest
A 21-year-old South Lake Tahoe woman was arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with the death of her infant. The remains of the baby were discovered in the trunk of her car Feb. 8 by a tow truck driver.
Maria Liddell was taken into custody around 9:44 a.m. Friday after she was released from the intensive care unit of Barton Memorial Hospital, where she was hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt. Liddell was questioned by police investigators Tuesday.
The decomposed body of Liddell’s infant child was discovered by a Welcome’s Towing driver after he hauled the woman’s Volkswagen Bug from the 1000 block of Sonora Avenue. The vehicle was parked in front of Liddell’s residence in violation of the city’s snow removal ordinances.
Detective Martin Hewlett said that during questioning Liddell admitted to giving birth to the child in the summer of 1996 in Concord, Calif. Shortly after the birth Liddell reportedly wrapped the baby in blankets and placed the child in a laundry basket in an attempt to hide it. Investigators said Liddell stated that she placed blankets over the baby and placed the infant in her vehicle. When she returned some time later the infant was dead. Liddell then allegedly put the infant in the trunk of her car where it remained until last Monday morning – more than a year after its death. Liddell never reported the infant’s birth or death to authorities.
Hewlett said Liddell moved to South Lake Tahoe during the winter of 1996 for employment and school purposes. Liddell was working at Heavenly Ski Resort.
According to police, the tow truck driver first became suspicious because of an odor coming from the trunk of Liddell’s car.
“We have talked to people who had been with her in the last few months and they told us an odor wasn’t noticeable,” Hewlett said. “The remains of the child were tightly wrapped in plastic which could have lessened any smell.”
Hewlett said the identity of the infant’s father is unknown at this time.
Liddell is being held in the El Dorado County Jail on a no-bail hold. Liddell turned 21 on the day of her arrest.
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