- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) — A 25-year-old woman has been arrested for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of a baby boy born prematurely and found decapitated, Centralia police say.

Laura Lynn Hickey was arrested Wednesday after a weeklong investigation, which included a post-mortem examination of the baby by a forensic pathologist.

The pathologist concluded the 21-week baby was alive at birth but “suffered fatal injuries by decapitation,” Officer John Panco said Wednesday night.

Police said the body was found March 2 under the kitchen sink in Ms. Hickey’s trailer home.

Ms. Hickey was scheduled to appear Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court. Officer Panco said he expected she would be formally charged with first-degree murder.

The Lewis County prosecutor’s office joined Centralia police in a statement announcing the arrest.

Officer Panco said he did not know whether Ms. Hickey was represented by a lawyer.

Paramedics responded to the woman’s home just before 1 a.m. on March 2 after neighbors heard her call for help, the statement said. Taken to Centralia Providence Hospital, the woman reportedly told doctors she was having a miscarriage, but police said an exam showed she had given birth. Police said the woman then told emergency room staff that the baby was under her kitchen sink.

Officers found the decapitated body.

Officer Panco said he can’t say whether the baby would have survived but he was alive at the time of birth.

The woman has three other children, but they do not live with her, Officer Panco said, adding Child Protective Services had removed them from her care about a year ago.

Police have located the baby’s father, but Ms. Hickey was alone when she gave birth, the officer said.

“Our investigations have determined she is the only one involved,” Officer Panco said. In police interviews, “there hasn’t been any solid reason from her why this happened.”

Ms. Hickey said she had picked out baby names and had chosen “Caleb Jacob Hickey” for a boy, Officer Panco said.

Asked about the weeklong delay until the arrest, the officer said, “We had to have the pathologist determine whether the baby was alive at birth or not. That’s a big part of what we can charge.”

Centralia is about 70 miles south of Seattle.


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