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Mother Arrested, Newborn Decapitated Moments After Birth

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CENTRALIA, Wash. — A Washington state woman who told detectives she used a serrated kitchen knife to cut off her prematurely born baby's head was charged Thursday in the death and decapitation, authorities said.

Laura Lynn Hickey of Centralia is quoted in court papers as saying she didn't think the newborn would live and didn't want him to suffer, court papers said. Police said the body was found March 2 in a plastic container under the kitchen sink in the 25-year-old's home, about 70 miles south of Seattle.

Hickey told detectives she didn't want anyone, particularly her mother, to know she had the newborn. She said she knew for a while that she was pregnant, but wasn't sure for how long when she developed severe cramps and gave birth on a bathroom toilet.

Hickey said she grabbed the newborn out of the toilet and "saw that he was trying to take a breath and heard a 'gurgling' sound," according to court papers. After cutting the newborn's head off, she named him Caleb Jacob Hickey, Lewis County prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said in court papers.

Hickey told police she later cleaned the knife and put it back in a drawer, cleaned the area and put the infant under the sink. Then she screamed for help.

Paramedics responded to the woman's trailer home after neighbors heard the scream, a police statement said. Hickey was taken to a local hospital and told doctors she was having a miscarriage. But an exam showed she had given birth, and police said she then told emergency room staff that the newborn was under her kitchen sink.

Hickey later acknowledged to authorities she used methamphetamine on Feb. 28 and had been awake for about two days prior to giving birth, court documents said. She was arrested Wednesday after a weeklong investigation, which included a forensic pathologist's post-mortem examination.

The pathologist noted several indications that the newborn, which had gestated for 21 weeks, was born alive and was viable, detectives said in the probable cause document filed by Meyer. No details were given.

Hickey was charged with first-degree murder and ordered held on $1 million bail during a brief court appearance Thursday, Meyer said. Arraignment was scheduled for March 17.

Lawyer Ken Johnson was appointed to represent her. He did not immediately return a call for comment.

Police have located the baby's father but Hickey was alone when she gave birth, Officer John Panco said. The woman has three other children but they do not live with her – Child Protective Services removed them from her care about a year ago, he said.