A Pennsylvania woman who drove around with the corpse of her newborn daughter in a cardboard box told investigators she “wasn’t exactly thrilled about being pregnant,” police said.
Chesney Anne Wheeler, 38, of Old Lycoming Township, is charged with abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, obstructing the administration of law and flight to avoid apprehension or punishment, according to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. She is also being held on a probation violation.
Wheeler is accused of giving birth April 13 to a premature baby girl after smoking crack and using heroin the night before. Court papers indicated that she feared police would find drugs in her system, so she wrapped the newborn in a blanket and put her in a box, the Sun-Gazette reported.
A friend took her later that day to a hospital 75 miles away in Wilkes-Barre, where Wheeler told hospital staff that she had a miscarriage at home and may have flushed the fetus down the toilet.
Suspicious hospital employees called police, who interviewed Wheeler’s friend and learned that the baby’s body was in a box in the car, parked outside. The friend told investigators she did not know the baby’s body was there until the women were on their way to the hospital.
Officers who found the baby said the body had already begun to decompose, the newspaper reported.
“I wasn’t exactly thrilled about being pregnant, that’s the truth,” Wheeler told police, according to court records. Investigators said she is an admitted heroin and cocaine addict.
Before going to the hospital in Wilkes-Barre, Wheeler and her friend went twice to a local drug treatment center. Wheeler also returned home and cleaned up her bathroom, where her daughter was born, police said.
Aside from her concern about the ramifications against her, Wheeler also expressed fear that the baby’s death could affect a criminal case against her husband, the Sun-Gazette reported.
Richard Hall Wheeler, 35, is in jail awaiting trial for aggravated assault. Police alleged that he kicked his wife in the stomach in January, despite her pregnancy, the newspaper said.
Township police said the baby’s autopsy was inconclusive as to her cause of death. They are awaiting toxicology results to determine if her mother’s drug use contributed to her death.
Both Wheelers are being held at the Lycoming County Prison. Old Lycoming Township in Williamsport, located about 180 miles northwest of Philadelphia.