Whenever a woman is murdered or vanishes without a trace, the situation becomes especially tragic when she is pregnant. In those instances, there are technically two victims: the woman and her unborn child.
In many cases, the murder or disappearance is a direct result of the victim’s pregnancy and the potential scandal that it could have caused. As a result, suspicion will fall upon those who have a lot to lose if the child is born.
10 The Kerry Babies Case
One of the strangest mysteries in the history of Ireland is the Kerry babies case. On April 14, 1984, a newborn boy was found stabbed to death on White Strand Beach near Cahersiveen in County Kerry.
When the child could not be identified, he was named “Baby John.” The investigation led to Joanne Hayes, a resident of the village of Abbeydorney. Hayes had recently been seen carrying a child but no longer seemed to be pregnant.
When Hayes and her family were questioned by police, they initially confessed to murdering Baby John. However, the confessions were loaded with inconsistencies, and the family later claimed that they had been coerced.
Incredibly, it turned out that Hayes had given birth to another baby boy on her family farm, but the child had died shortly afterward. She decided to bury her deceased son in a hole on the property.
Apparently, the father of the child was a local married man named Jeremiah Locke, which is why the baby’s birth was covered up. Blood tests confirmed that the child had type O blood, matching both Hayes and Locke.
On the other hand, Baby John had type A blood, which seemed to rule out the possibility of Hayes as the mother. However, investigators later claimed that Hayes had somehow become pregnant by two different men and had given birth to twins through superfecundation. The authorities believed that both deceased babies were hers.
Hayes was charged with Baby John’s murder, but the case garnered so much controversy that all charges against Hayes and her family were thrown out. Hayes was never charged in connection with the death of her own child. The identity of Baby John’s biological parents and the circumstances of his murder are still unknown.
9 The Murder Of Evelyn Hernandez
One of the most sensational crime stories of the modern era was the murder of Laci Peterson, a young pregnant woman who vanished on Christmas Eve 2002. Her dismembered remains were later found in San Francisco Bay, and her husband, Scott Peterson, was eventually sentenced to death for the murder of his wife and unborn child.
However, a similar crime had taken place in the same area several months earlier and hadn’t received nearly as much attention. In 2002, 24-year-old Evelyn Hernandez was a single mother from El Salvador who lived in San Francisco with her five-year-old son, Alex.
On May 1, Evelyn was one week away from giving birth to another son when she and Alex vanished without explanation. Shortly thereafter, Evelyn’s wallet was found in a parking lot near the workplace of Herman Aguilera, the father of Evelyn’s unborn child.
On July 24, a decomposed female torso and a pair of legs were discovered near the Bay Bridge. DNA testing confirmed that they were the remains of Evelyn Hernandez. The rest of Evelyn’s body and the fetus of her unborn child could not be found, and Alex remained missing.
Evelyn had been dating Aguilera for years. But shortly after she became pregnant, she discovered that Aguilera was already married and she ended their relationship.
Initially, Aguilera cooperated with police, but he eventually stopped talking to them. He is not considered a serious suspect because his wife provided him with an alibi on the day of Evelyn’s disappearance.
When the Laci Peterson case hit the news, the similarities between the two crimes led to speculation that they were connected, but this has since been ruled out. The murder of Evelyn Hernandez and the disappearance of her missing son are still unsolved.
8 The Disappearance Of Celina Mays
On the evening of December 15, 1996, 12-year-old Celina Mays went to bed at her aunt’s residence in Willingboro, New Jersey. When Celina’s father entered her room the following morning, he discovered that she was gone. Some pillows had been placed under the covers to give the impression that Celina was sleeping. All of her personal items were left behind.
When Celina was reported missing, a shocking piece of news was revealed: Despite being 12 years old, Celina was nine months pregnant and due to give birth in two weeks. This was a particularly scandalous situation because Celina and her family were members of Gospel of Christ Ministries, a strict Pentecostal church run by Celina’s aunt.
At the time of Celina’s disappearance, the church was under fire from former members who claimed that the church operated like a brainwashing cult and rarely allowed their members to have contact with the outside world.
Celina had been seeing an obstetrician regularly. Although she had never revealed the identity of her baby’s father, she had mentioned having a boyfriend who was 16 years old and not a member of her church.
Celina’s father claimed that he was planning to have paternity tests done to determine the identity of the child’s father before his daughter disappeared. Since the child’s father could be charged with statutory rape if he is ever identified, it’s been suggested that Celina was murdered or died during a failed abortion attempt.
There were also rumors that Sean Smith, Celina’s 23-year-old cousin, might be the father because he was charged with the aggravated sexual assault of two teenage girls in 1998. Whatever the truth, Celina Mays has been missing for nearly 20 years and the circumstances of her pregnancy remain unclear.
7 The Death Of ‘Miss X’
On March 18, 1967, the body of a young woman was discovered by the side of a rural road in New Castle County, Delaware. She appeared to be between 16 and 25 years old and was possibly of European origin. She was clad only in bikini underwear, which had the manufacturer’s labels removed. A red ribbon tied back her hair.
The victim had been partially stuffed into a canvas laundry bag, which bore a marking from a Trenton, New Jersey, company called American Laundry Dry Cleaning. The investigation failed to uncover any substantial leads. Since the victim could not be identified, she simply became known as “Miss X.”
The most intriguing clue about Miss X was that she was three months pregnant at the time of her death. In 1967, abortion had not yet been legalized. Since a soaplike substance was found in the victim’s vaginal cavity, an attempt at an illegal abortion may have contributed to her death.
It’s likely that Miss X contracted an infection known as septicemia, which could have caused her to become fatally ill when she did not receive proper medical care. In 2011, authorities were able to extract a DNA profile from a sample of the woman’s blood.
When the profile was compared with some genealogy websites, a connection was discovered between the victim and some maternal relatives in Virginia and North Carolina. However, when questioned by authorities, none of these relatives could identify the deceased young woman. Until that happens, she will continue to be known as Miss X.
6 The Disappearance Of Kristine Kupka
On October 24, 1998, 28-year-old Kristine Kupka was visited at her residence by a Guyanese immigrant named Darshanand “Rudy” Persaud. Kristine was five months pregnant. According to her roommate, Rudy looked nervous when he and Kristine left the house together.
At some point, Kristine left a message on her sister’s answering machine that said she was going to visit Rudy’s new apartment in Queens. Kristine did not return home that day, and no one ever saw her again.
At the time, Kristine was attending Baruch College and Rudy had been her adjunct chemistry instructor. The two of them had begun a relationship, but unfortunately for Kristine, she did not find out that Rudy was married until she became pregnant with his child.
Even though Kristine seemed content to be a single mother, Rudy had reportedly begged her to have an abortion, claiming that his family would disown him if they found out about the pregnancy.
After Kristine refused, she allegedly became frightened of Rudy. By the time October 24 rolled around, their relationship had improved and Kristine was prepared to allow Rudy to be a part of her child’s life.
Even though Kristine had said she was planning to visit Rudy’s apartment, Rudy told the police that he had taken her to a shopping center before dropping her off two blocks from her home. However, Rudy’s story had some inconsistencies, and he eventually stopped cooperating with the authorities.
In 2010, investigators dug up the basement of a store which had previously belonged to one of Rudy’s cousins. A cadaver-sniffing dog seemed to sense the presence of human remains. However, an excavation of the basement failed to uncover any physical evidence of a homicide. Although Rudy Persaud continues to be the prime suspect in Kristine Kupka’s disappearance, the case remains unsolved.
5 The Murder Of Reyna Marroquin
In 1999, the new owner of a house in Long Island discovered that a 55-gallon drum had been left inside the crawl space. When the drum was finally opened on September 2, everyone was shocked to find the mummified remains of a young woman inside.
She had been bludgeoned to death and was nine months pregnant with a male fetus. There were also some personal objects inside the drum, including an address book. This helped police to identify the victim as Reyna Marroquin. She was an immigrant from El Salvador who had moved to New York in 1966 and disappeared without explanation three years later.
Investigators were able to determine that the drum had once been used by a Manhattan-based company called Melrose Plastics, where Marroquin had been employed prior to her disappearance. The company was owned by a man named Howard Elkins, who was also a previous owner of the house where the drum was discovered.
Police used the address book to track down a former friend of Marroquin, who claimed that Marroquin had been having an affair with the married Elkins and became pregnant with his child. Marroquin had allegedly told Elkins’s wife about the pregnancy and expressed fear that Elkins would kill her. Shortly thereafter, Marroquin vanished.
When the 70-year-old Elkins was questioned by police, he was told that he would be compelled by court order to take a DNA test to determine if he was the biological father of the unborn child.
On September 10, Elkins committed suicide by shooting himself. A posthumous DNA test proved that Elkins was the child’s father. Although it’s extremely likely that Elkins murdered Marroquin, his suicide prevented the case from being solved conclusively.
4 The Disappearance Of Bethany Decker
In January 2011, 21-year-old Bethany Decker was five months pregnant and lived in Loudon County, Virginia. That month, Bethany’s husband, Emile Decker, returned home on leave from his deployment with the military in Afghanistan. The couple had a one-year-old son together.
But their marriage was on shaky ground. Bethany had been involved in an extramarital affair with a man named Ronald Roldan and had moved in with him while Emile was overseas.
Nevertheless, the couple had decided to take a vacation together in Hawaii to patch things up. After they returned, the last confirmed sighting of Bethany took place on January 29 when she called her workplace. Then she disappeared without explanation.
When Emile returned to Afghanistan on February 4, Bethany did not see him off at the airport. Weeks later, her family reported her missing. Bethany’s car and all of her personal belongings were left behind at her apartment, and someone had been posing as her to send messages to friends on Facebook.
It’s likely that Ronald Roldan was the father of Bethany’s unborn child. Ronald was known to be abusive and controlling and was believed to be the last person to see Bethany before she disappeared.
He gave inconsistent statements to the police before he stopped cooperating with the investigation. In November 2014, Ronald was involved in a domestic dispute with another girlfriend, which involved each of them shooting the other twice.
Ronald’s girlfriend was shot in the head, causing her to lose an eye. But she ultimately survived. Her shooting of Ronald was ruled to be self-defense, but Ronald was charged with attempted murder. Although he has never been charged in connection with Bethany Decker’s unsolved disappearance, he remains a person of interest.
3 The Death Of Baby Michael
On March 3, 1999, the body of a newborn baby was found inside a large trash bag on Canady Pond Road just outside Fayetteville, North Carolina. The baby was approximately one day old and appeared to have been healthy. The placenta was also found inside the bag.
The child had died from blunt force trauma and was likely thrown from a moving vehicle. However, his injuries were severe enough to indicate that they had been inflicted on him before his death. Since the child could not be identified, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office named him “Baby Michael” after St. Michael, the patron saint of law enforcement.
There were some intriguing clues as to the identity of Baby Michael’s parents. The day before the child was found, witnesses remembered seeing a couple in a nearby clinic. The woman was pregnant and looked visibly worried when she was told that she would have to go to a hospital for a maternity test.
Later that night, a motorist saw a male and a pregnant female in a parked car near Canady Pond Road. The motorist asked the couple if they needed assistance, but they said they were fine. Since there is no record of Baby Michael being born at a medical center, it is believed that this woman gave birth to her child at that location.
Although this couple has never been identified, Michael’s mother did leave behind DNA and a pubic hair which could be used to identify her in the future. Shortly after Baby Michael’s death, the man who found his body placed a cross at the location as a memorial.
In March 2011, the memorial site was inexplicably vandalized. It’s been theorized that Michael’s mother might have been responsible.
2 The Disappearance Of Cecilia Newball
In 1994, 32-year-old Cecilia Newball lived in Chatsworth, California, with Alfredo Newball, her husband, and Rene Perez Jr., her six-year-old son from a previous marriage. Cecilia and Alfredo had been together two years, and Cecilia was eight months pregnant with Alfredo’s child.
On September 20, Alfredo left for work while Cecilia and Rene remained at their apartment. When Alfredo returned home that night, Cecilia and Rene were gone.
However, all of their personal belongings were left behind, and Cecilia’s jeep was parked outside. Inside the jeep was Cecilia’s engagement and wedding rings and a generic goodbye card with Cecilia’s signature.
Three days later, Alfredo received a typewritten letter from Cecilia that was postmarked from Van Nuys. Cecilia claimed that she and Rene had taken off to Honduras with a doctor named “Arturo,” who was possibly the real father of her unborn child. There was a lot of skepticism about whether Cecilia actually wrote this letter.
In the months preceding Cecilia’s disappearance, she had received some strange phone calls. In one of the calls, a woman claimed to have a videotape of Alfredo kissing another woman at a baby shower and wanted to arrange a meeting for Cecilia to see it. But the woman never called back.
On another occasion, Cecilia received a call from a woman claiming to be Alfredo’s coworker. That caller said that his coworkers were planning a baby shower for him. Cecilia was supposed to meet this woman on the same day that she disappeared. But there was no baby shower planned for Alfredo, and none of his coworkers had made the call.
Police had some suspicions that Alfredo might have been involved in the disappearances because he seemed to be acting unconcerned. But there is no evidence against him. The fate of Cecilia, Rene, and Cecilia’s unborn child remains unknown.
1 The Murder Of Rose Harsent
In 1902, 22-year-old Rose Harsent was employed as a servant at Providence House, the residence of a local clergyman in the village of Peasenhall, England. On the morning of June 1, Harsent’s father showed up at the residence to discover his daughter’s body in the kitchen. She was stabbed, her throat was slit, and paraffin was used on her body to burn it. Harsent also happened to be six months pregnant.
A search of Harsent’s room turned up a note from an unknown writer who had arranged to meet her in the kitchen at midnight. The investigation soon turned toward a local carpenter named William Gardiner, who lived nearby with his wife and six children. There was already gossip around the village that he had been conducting a secret affair with Harsent and was suspected of being the father of her unborn child.
A lot of circumstantial evidence seemed to point to Gardiner. A broken bottle was found at the murder scene which had previously contained medicine prescribed for Gardiner’s children. A bloodstained knife was discovered in Gardiner’s house, and he was seen holding a bonfire the morning after the crime.
Gardiner was charged with murder and went on trial in November. However, Gardiner’s wife provided him with an alibi and explained away the broken medicine bottle by claiming that she had lent it to Harsent because she had a cold.
After one juror refused to vote for Gardiner’s guilt, a mistrial was declared. Gardiner’s second trial ended with another hung jury, but this time, 10 jurors voted for acquittal.
The prosecution declined to try Gardiner a third time, and he lived the rest of his days as a free man. To this day, there is still debate about who really murdered Rose Harsent.
Robin Warder has just started a new true crime podcast called The Trail Went Cold, where he analyzes some of the unsolved cold cases he has written about right here on Listverse. Feel free to contact him here.