Cops and Courts

Westover woman arrested after newborn found inside backpack hidden in crawl space

A Westover woman is being held at North Central Regional Jail on $150,000 bond after her arrest Thursday for gross child neglect. Police say she zipped her newborn baby in a backpack then left the infant inside a crawl space at her residence in January.

Detective Fecsko with the Westover Police Department responded to a residence at 501 Schley St. in Westover on Jan. 6 for a reported abandoned child that was found hidden in a backpack, the criminal complaint said.

During the investigation, the detective discovered that Brittany Nichole Hunt, of Westover, who was 26 at the time, now 27, gave birth to a baby girl around Jan. 4 in the bathroom of the residence.

According to the complaint, Hunt made statements that she “made no attempt to get this newborn baby medical care nor did she attempt to nourish her.”

Police estimated through testimony provided by Hunt as well as another party that the newborn laid on the bathroom floor without proper care for over 24 hours.

Investigators determined Hunt then placed the baby girl inside of a backpack, zipped it and hid the backpack inside an upstairs crawl space — an area people seldom entered.

After what is believed to be several hours later, a male accidentally found the backpack with the newborn inside while moving items into the space. He called police.

The newborn was still inside the backpack and covered with feces when officers arrived.

While officers were on scene, the complaint said, Hunt adamantly denied any involvement and declared the child wasn’t hers.

Hunt later confessed and forensic analysis of DNA collected on scene confirmed she was the baby’s mother.  Blood samples taken from the birthing site also matched samples collected from Hunt.

Investigators also obtained umbilical cord toxicology results that showed detectable levels of Xanax, methamphetamine, suboxone and cocaine were present.

After law enforcement received the forensic analysis and toxicology results and completed their investigation, they arrested Hunt. She was arraigned June 15 in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

Police officials could not disclose who currently has custody of the baby girl but did say she was doing OK after her rough beginning.

“This newborn baby girl was born in dangerously unsanitary conditions, not provided vital nutrition, denied medical treatment with the presence of numerous narcotics, placed into a zipped backpack, hid in a crawl space near an open window with outside temperatures being recorded at only 28 degrees the day she was found, and left alone,” Fecsko wrote in the report.

“It is strongly believed that had the other party not found this newborn when he did, that child would have, in fact, succumbed to its environment.”

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