South Dakota woman charged with murder 38 years after leaving newborn son to die in a ditch
57-year-old Theresa Rose Bentaas has been charged with first-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of baby Andrew in 1981
A South Dakota mother who left her newborn son in a ditch to die in the Sioux Falls area close to four decades ago has been finally charged with the infant's murder. Authorities have finally solved the cold case in connection to the death of baby Andrew in February 1981 and arrested 57-year-old Theresa Rose Bentaas.
According to NBC News, the announcement of Bentaas' arrest was made by Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns in a news conference last Saturday, March 9. Burns said the baby was alive when he was left on the side of the road 38 years ago and his body was eventually found by residents test driving a car in the area.
An arrest has been made on a cold case dating back to 1981. Theresa (Josten) Bentaas faces 1st & 2nd degree murder charges, and 1st degree manslaughter. She was arrested this morning around 7:15AM, and will likely be in court on Monday. @KDLTNews pic.twitter.com/wKxLH5XTXn— Simon J Floss (@KDLT_Floss) March 8, 2019
Andrew was "left all alone in the cold" and found "wrapped in a blood-stained blanket", said Burns, who also revealed that a subsequent autopsy determined the infant was born full-term and that he "slowly succumbed to exposure."
Since then, detectives have been working to determine the culprit responsible for the death, even exhuming Andrew's remains a few years ago to collect DNA samples. While they could not find any matches for the DNA on that occasion, authorities once again got back to the case a few months ago and enlisted the help of a DNA technology company.
This time, they found several family trees that possibly connected Andrew to residents in Sioux Falls, reported NBC News. One of those was someone detectives initially thought was the infant's grandmother, but who later turned out to be his mother Bentaas.
At the time, detectives obtained a sample of DNA from the 57-year-old for testing, and the results of those tests came back last week and confirmed she was the mother of the child. Authorities said she was a "young teenager" when she gave birth, which would explain why they first suspected her of being the grandmother.
According to Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which obtained an affidavit taken out in support of the arrest, Bentaas told police she hid the pregnancy from family and friends and confessed to abandoning Andrew because she was scared, young, and stupid. She also said she gave birth to the child in her apartment alone and said she chose the place where she ditched him because of its "proximity."
Bentaas has been charged with first-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection to baby Andrew's death.
ICYMI: After nearly four decades, Baby Andrew's mother, 57-year-old Theresa Bentaas, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. https://t.co/5F4KQ4XAEl— Marsys Law for All (@MarsysLawforAll) March 11, 2019
She is being held at the Minnehaha County Jail on a $250,000 bond. The infant's father, Dirk Bentaas, married the 57-year-old in 1987 but was not arrested because he did not know about the pregnancy.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the results today and the arrest and the closure that we find, as well as the hard work and dedication for the pursuit of justice for Andrew," Burns said.
On February 28, 1981, a full term baby boy was found abandoned in a blanket south of 26th Street and South Sycamore Avenue. The coroner determined the baby died from exposure to the elements.https://t.co/zhs20F5Cis— JUSTICE4SHIRLEY (@justice4shirley) March 9, 2019