Minnesota Mom Convicted of Murder in the ‘Babies in the Water’ Case that Stumped Police For Decades

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For over two decades, investigators struggled to solve the mystery. Is it possible that a baby girl was left to drown in the Mississippi River in 1999 by someone other than her mother?

Who then abandoned a baby boy four years later on the banks the same water body in rural Minnesota?

Authorities said that DNA and genealogical records had led them to a suspect during an emotional press conference on Monday. Officials announced that a woman thought to be the mother for both children has been arrested and is being charged with murder.

According to online records, Jennifer Matter, 50 is currently being held in Goodhue County Jail without bail on two counts for second-degree murder. 

These charges stem from the 2003 drowning of a naked baby on the banks of Lake Pepin. Investigators stated that the boy’s umbilical chord was tied to his body and wrapped around it.

Authorities didn’t explain Monday why Matter was not charged in the first case, in which a body of a newborn girl wrapped up in a towel was discovered floating in the river in 1999.

Investigators determined that DNA evidence indicated that Matter was the mother of both infants.

“Charges may be amended or added at a later time as more evidence comes to light,”Stephen O’Keefe, Goodhue County Attorney, spoke at the press conference.

Authorities stated that DNA testing in 2004-2007 proved the babies were related. However, the deaths were not linked to Matter until the most recent genetic records analyses.

“For over 20 years the deaths of these innocent babies have haunted our community,”Marty Kelly, Goodhue County Sheriff, stated Monday.

“The tenacity of several investigators in our office to obtain justice for these babies and the perseverance by our community who assisted us in finding answers have led us here today. We pray today’s arrest and charges provide some closure,”He said.

According to the sheriff, cold cases were reopened in 2020 and investigators used genetic genealogy in order to identify the biological father for the child found in 1999. Authorities claimed that Matter was identified as a person in interest.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week by prosecutors, Matter admitted to having given birth to both of the infants while being interrogated by state and local authorities.

Matter confessed to investigators that she was too drunk, going back and forth between jail and home. “a lot of stupid things,”The complaint was filed.

The complaint stated that the woman claimed she gave birth in her bathroom on 1999.

“Matter stated that the baby was born blue, was not breathing and was not crying, so she freaked out,”The complaint was filed.

“Matter stated that she knows she should have gotten help, but that her mind was not there,”According to the document.

Matter stated that she wrapped her baby in a towel and took it to a riverside boathouse. The complaint stated that Matter left the baby there for several days. According to authorities, Matter claimed that she was heavily drinking at the time.

She also told investigators that in 2003, she was alone at a public beach when she went into labor, the complaint said.

“Matter stated that it was dark outside, it was cold, that she did not look to see the gender of the child, and that she remembered leaving the baby on the beach before driving away,”According to the complaint. Matter later stated to investigators that the child was hers. “was breathing fine and it may have been crying but she didn’t remember it.”

Minnesota was created in 1999 by the Minnesota case. “safe haven”Law that allows unharmed infants as young as 7 days to be kept in a hospital or by a health care provider, without the risk of being charged with any penalties