Mother in newborn death case charged with murder, father charged with neglect

Published: Apr. 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM CDT
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Two people arrested following the death of a newborn were formally charged Monday in Wood County Circuit Court.

Marylinn Feher, 22, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and neglecting a child. The child's father, Allen Rice, 19, is charged with neglecting a child and obstructing an officer. Investigators said when questioned, he denied that Feher had given birth.

The two were expected to be charged last month, however, the judge delayed the initial appearances until after the child's cause of death was determined.

The criminal complaint states the newborn died of blunt force cranial cerebral trauma and features of strangulation.

According to a news release, on April 6 at 10:11 a.m. Marshfield Medical Center reported a possible missing newborn. Wood County Sheriff Shawn Becker said an investigation began after a woman came to the hospital seeking medical help for heavy bleeding.

"Marshfield medical center advised the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and Marshfield Police Department a female had come in for treatment, advised that she had given birth, and the baby wasn’t with her," Wood County Sheriff Shawn Becker explained in April.

Investigators said Rice said Feher got a ride to the hospital from a friend because he was working. He also said he got a ride to the hospital from a coworker. According to court documents, Rice said he lied because he was afraid and claimed the baby was stillborn. He also said while he was carrying the baby to his Jeep after it was born in Milladore, he dropped it on the ground. He then said the baby was in his vehicle in the parking lot.

Officers located the child wrapped in a bath towel inside a tied plastic garbage bag in the rear cargo portion of a vehicle in the Marshfield Clinic parking lot. The child was rushed inside, revived, but later died of its injuries.

Court documents state Feher and Rice arrived at the hospital around 2 a.m. Rice said he stayed with the baby in the vehicle until 5 a.m., then went into the hospital without the baby. He then check on the newborn at 7:30 a.m. and went back into the hospital. Officers found the baby unattended in the vehicle at 10:30 a.m. The baby died at 4:16 p.m.

Feher did not tell hospital staff she had given birth, and she did not tell them where the baby was, according to court documents.

Investigators said the child was born that morning alive, in Milladore. Court documents state Feher said she hit the newborn's head on the toilet several times and also strangled the baby in effort to suffocate him.

Sheriff Becker said Feher had been concealing the pregnancy.

"This case has been quite emotional for the staff. And it’s going to continue to be. This is probably the worst… in my career for what the department is going through," Becker explained of the case.

Becker said the baby was named Zacharia by Feher.

Courts documents stated during the police interview on April 7, Feher only referred to the baby as 'it' or 'thing'.

Rice is in the Wood County Jail on $35,000 cash bond. Feher is in custody on $1 million cash bond.

Both will return to court June 12. That's when judge will rule if there is enough evidence for their cases to head to trial. They'll also enter pleas to their charges.