Ohio woman pleads guilty in ’92 death of ‘Baby April’ in Moline

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 2:31 PM CST
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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - An Ohio woman pleaded guilty Monday in connection with the 1992 death of her newborn baby girl, known as “Baby April.”

Angela Renee Siebke, 48, who initially faced first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to endangering the life of a child resulting in death, a Class 3 felony, in Rock Island County Circuit Court.

A Class 3 felony is typically punishable by two to five years in prison, however, the endangerment charge is punishable by an enhanced sentence of two to 10 years in prison.

The plea is open, meaning prosecutors can make any recommendation when she is sentenced on Jan. 31.

Prosecutors say that on April 11, 1992, Siebke, then 18 and living in Orion, caused the baby’s death when she placed the girl in a bag.

That day, a man walking his dog found the body of a full-term baby girl in a plastic garbage bag floating along the bank of the Mississippi River off 17th Street in Moline, according to police.

According to police, the Rock Island County Coroner identified the cause of death as suffocation asphyxiation and hypothermia.

Baby April was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Moline several days after the discovery of her body.

In December 2014, former Rock Island-County State’s Attorney John McGehee announced he had filed a first-degree murder charge against an unknown female’s DNA profile found at the scene.

McGehee said at the time that although a suspect has not been identified, a DNA profile is specific enough to file a criminal charge under Illinois law.

Working with Virginia-based lab Parabon NanoLabs, Siebke was developed as a suspect, police said.

Moline detectives went to her home in Ohio and served her with a warrant for her DNA. Siebke was arrested at the home of a family member in Rock Island on Dec. 17, according to police.

Her attorney, Steve Hanna, filed a motion in September to have her released on a recognizance bond pending trial.

In the motion, Hanna said a defense expert had opined that it could not be determined “within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty” that the baby was born alive “due to the fact that the mastoid air sacs were not examined.”

He further wrote that nothing provided in discovery produced by prosecutors suggests beyond a reasonable doubt that the baby was born alive or that Siebke did anything criminally to cause her death.

In response to the motion, Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal wrote that the defense expert confirmed in the report that the cause of the baby’s death was listed as exposure to cold/asphyxia as a result of infanticide after the presence of air was found in the newborn girl’s lungs in a float test.

Villarreal said the expert opined that the mastoid bone requires examination to determine an infant was born alive and concluded that this case was “undetermined.”

“This report does not contradict the state’s initial medial reports, but instead presents additional arguments for the trier of fact in the case to determine at trial,” she wrote in the motion.

Hanna later withdrew the motion, court records show.

correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Siebke faced two to five years in prison. The charge she pleaded guilty to is punishable by an enhanced sentence of two to 10 years in prison.

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