19-year-old is was a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Involved in college life, she was the vice-president of Finances for RHA, a university group. Majoring in Finance Sarah Elizabeth Tatum had a promising life ahead of her. All except for the part about the baby that she gave birth to in her dorm room Monday night.
There aren’t any details released as far as the how and why but Sarah has been arrested and booked into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse. (She has since been released to the custody of her father and will have a mental evaluation prior to her court date) Apparently she has been accused of trying to kill her infant son after giving birth. 911 was called at some point and the Tucson Fire Department took both Sarah and her baby to the University Medical Center for treatment. When she was released earlier today she was arrested.
Was this a case of post-partum depression or a mental illness that she has kept hidden or something more dark and sinister? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a young mother killed her newborn so that they wouldn’t be in the way, however heartless that may sound. From comments I’ve come across from people familiar with Sarah say that this is very unlike her and they are all shocked.
The University of Arizona is quick to cut their losses and cover their ass as quickly as they can. They have suspended her and she is not allowed on campus. The RHA website
which listed her has been quickly taken down and the parent directory containing photos of the executive board has been cleaned of her photo and any other information concerning Sarah. She does also have a Facebook page but it’s private.
This is one of those stories that I had to contemplate writing about for a while before writing. It’s very easy for me to want to call her bad names and drag her to the curb but in this case I’ve got the feeling that there is more involved. Not that I don’t think that she did it, but emotionally. I’ll update this as I can. Police haven’t said whether the baby is still alive or not but by the absence of murder charges I am assuming that he is.
Update – From what I have been able to ascertain since I got home this evening Sarah Tatum’s baby is in critical condition in the hospital right now (update below). The spokesperson for CPS won’t release any more details about the baby right now.
According to what Tatum told police she miscarried in the shower and claimed the bay was born dead, at which point she placed the baby in a bag of dirty laundry. When the police cut the bag open they found a full term baby gasping for air. When he was taken to the hospital he was suffering from Hypoxia, from being inside the bag for at least two hours before they arrived.
In her interview with the police Sarah Tatum told them that she had hidden her pregnancy and had not seen a doctor prior to giving birth.
Update II – Earlier today a Grand Jury in Arizona returned an indictment for Attempted First Degree Murder as well as Child Abuse.
From what I was told via email earlier this evening, the baby was released from the hospital on March 12th and is currently in CPS/Foster care according to the spokesperson for the Department of Economic Security. As soon as I get an update in print I will link it here.
One of the things that I found really disturbing isn’t necessarily the fact that she didn’t want the baby, it’s the way she went about it. Arizona does have a safe harbor law and she could have simply dropped the baby off at a hospital or fire station. It shows a real lack of respect for human life in my eyes.
If you are local to Arizona KOLD 13 will have more details on their 5pm newscast.
– Apparently Sarah Tatum told police she had miscarried in the shower
and put the baby in a bag.
Update II – I received an update via email today that the baby is alright.
Update III – 19-year-old Sarah Tatum’s trial for attempted murder and child abuse has been set for May 25th, 2010.