Homicide charges filed in 2003 infant death found in Mississippi

Jennifer Matter, 50, of rural Red Wing, admitted leaving two children at or near the Mississippi River in 1999 and 2003, according to the criminal complaint.

Red Wing, Minn. – Describing it as a mystery that has drawn the hearts of law enforcement agencies and community residents for decades, G.Oodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly announced the allegation was filed against a woman in relation to two children found dead in the Mississippi River in 1999 and 2003.

Authorities say Jennifer Matter, 50, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of a baby boy pulled from a river in 2003. Goodhue County Attorney Stephen O’Keefe said the charges Additional charges await prosecutors to finalize the case of an infant girl found in the Mississippi River nearly four years earlier.

Matter is being held at the Goodhue County Law Enforcement Center after she was arrested just after 6:30 a.m. Monday at her home in Belvidere Township. Sheriff Kelly said the defendant was taken into custody without incident.

“Did she know it was coming? I think she did,” Kelly told reporters at Monday’s news conference.

The case of the newborns, plus a third child whose body was no longer alive, was pulled from Mississippi in 2007, recently reported by KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse. They remain unresolved through the management of three former Goodhue County Sheriffs, all of whom left office with small children in mind.

RELATED: Minnesota Unsolved: The Mystery of the Underwater Children

“For more than 20 years, the deaths of these innocent children have haunted the community and countless law enforcement officers have worked tirelessly on this case,” Kelly said.

Investigators from Goodhue County and the Minnesota Department of Criminal Investigation worked on the case all those years, following up tips and citations to no avail. DNA profiling was obtained during autopsies performed on the children who had previously established that they were related. The breakdown finally came when DNA profiling was used to conduct a genetic genealogy search that led to potential relatives in Goodhue County.

A criminal complaint against Matter says that in June 2021, the Minnesota BCA crime lab used samples to identify the girl’s biological father found in 1999. Prosecutors said. in the complaint that interviews with that man and further investigations led them to the defendant.

Investigators interviewed Jennifer Matter on April 25, 2022, and said she had denied motherhood of the children who had passed away. When asked to take a DNA sample, investigators said she refused.

On May 2, a search warrant was issued and law enforcement collected a DNA sample from Matter. It was compared with the records of two infants and found both to be a good match for the defendant.

Prosecutors said in the criminal complaint that in a second interview with investigators from Goodhue County and the BCA, Matter admitted to giving birth to both children, saying she drank too much, on prison and did “a lot of stupid things.”

In the case of the infant in 2003, Matter told investigators she went into the river and left the baby on the beach before driving away. She said the baby was breathing well and he may have cried.

The complaint says that Matter told detectives she didn’t call 911, but hoped someone would find the baby. Authorities also quoted her as saying she never intended to keep the baby, she did not provide prenatal care and had considered other options such as adoption but had no plans to let him stay. somewhere safe after giving birth.

Sheriff Kelly noted investigators who didn’t give up and a community invested in the short lives of children. He told reporters that local residents contributed $10,000 to pay for the genealogy search that broke the case.

Jennifer Matter is scheduled to make her first appearance in Goodhue County Court on Tuesday.

Authorities have made it clear that they do not believe Matter has anything to do with the death of a third child discovered in Mississippi in 2007. They are asking anyone who knows anything about the case to call. them to provide information.

RELATED: The Goodhue Co Sheriff’s Office.

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