Police: Student's newborn baby found in bag, gasping for air

Posted: Updated:
Safe Haven was nearby
azfamily.com

UPDATE: As students at the University of Arizona carry on with college life, U of A sophmore Sarah Tatum faces a new life, a criminal life.

At 19 years old, Tatum faces charges of child abuse and attempted first degree murder.

An interim complaint filed by university police on Monday, the day of the incident, says Tatum admitted she miscarried and put the baby in a bag.

She told police the baby was dead, but when officers opened the bag they found a full term baby boy, gasping for air.

Carol Weigold of Casa de los Ninos and the Arizona Safe Baby Haven Coalition says what happened to Tatum could have been prevented.

"She had no knowledge that she could even have walked into a local hospital and given birth in a delivery room with trained staff around" says Weigold.

Under Arizona law, women can legally abandon their babies at Casa de los Ninos or any hospital or fire station designated a Safe Haven without saying who they are or why they're doing it.

And they won't be prosecuted. Most people don't know because it isn't publicized anymore.

"I hate to say that it boils down to funding but in order to get the word out it's gonna cost" admits Weigold.

The sad part, Casa de los Ninos - a local crisis nursery - is only a couple miles away from Tatum's dorm room.

Tatum told police she hid her pregnancy and didn't seek prenatal care. Weigold says that those decisions are usually made out of fear and denial.

UPDATE FEB. 26:

TUCSON -- Police say they found a 7-pound boy born to a University of Arizona student in her bag of dirty clothes lacking oxygen and gasping for breath.

University Medical Center spokesman George Humphrey said the infant was listed in critical condition Thursday.

In an interim complaint, university police said 19-year-old sophomore Sarah Tatum of Scottsdale told officers she put the bag at the foot of her dorm room bed after giving birth Monday.

Police booked her Wednesday into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse.

Later, she was released on her own recognizance after an initial appearance, despite a prosecutor's $250,000 bond request.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

ORIGINAL REPORT:

TUCSON -- University of Arizona police have arrested a sophomore student they accuse of trying to kill her infant son after giving birth in her dormitory.

Police say 19-year-old Sarah Tatum has been booked into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse.

A police statement says Tatum was arrested Wednesday after being released from University Medical Center. The birth occurred Monday evening, and police were called for medical assistance.

The Tucson Fire Department took the mother and child for medical treatment and evaluation.

University officials placed Tatum on interim suspension, barring her from campus, after she was charged with commission of a violent crime.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)