$1.5M bail for Minnesota woman accused in deaths of 2 babies

Authorities say Matter abandoned 2 babies in the Mississippi River, one in 1999 and a second in 2003.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 3:58 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 8:11 PM CDT
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RED WING, Minn. (KEYC) — Authorities announced Monday that Jennifer Matter has been charged with the 2003 death of a newborn boy on Lake Pepin.

Investigators said that DNA evidence led to identifying Matter as the boy’s mother, and also tied her to the 1999 death of an infant girl.

“A thorough investigation will take place when the crime first takes place but because of constraints, maybe there wasn’t the ability to do DNA evidence, there wasn’t the ability to find fingerprints. Because we have had forensic processes really improve over the last twenty years, that’s why cases are revisited from time to time,” explained Pat Nelson, chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Investigators used genealogy technology to match Matter to the two children, adding new evidence to a nearly 22-year-old case.

The community donated $10,000 so investigators could make DNA comparisons with genealogy find the mother of the children.

“They actually matched the victim, because they knew the victim’s mother was most likely the suspect that left him there,” Nelson said.

Matter has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2003 death of the boy, but has yet to be officially charged with the 1999 death.

Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said that determining the charges for a 22-year-old case depends on looking at the available evidence, much of which is circumstantial.

“The child died as a result of someone’s action, and the question was is just ‘who is responsible for that action.’ And, obviously, not knowing who the parent was at the time with, again with technology increasing. So you take a look at the facts, and you determine ‘what happened to this child? How did this child die?” said McDermott.

If convicted, Matter faces up to 40 years in prison.

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