Grand jury indicts mother of dead newborn
The mother of a newborn baby that was found dead in an Eagle River park two weeks ago was charged with second-degree murder Friday, Oct. 25.
U.S. Army Alaska Specialist Ashley Ard, 24, was taken to Anchorage Jail on Friday evening with bail set at $250,000 cash plus a third-party custodian, Anchorage Police said in a written statement.
A grand jury indicted Ard on one count of second-degree murder Friday.
According to the indictment, Ard “knowingly engaged in conduct that resulted in the death of another person under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Ard, who carried the baby to term, gave birth at her Eagle River residence and left the home just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, Det. Sgt. Cindi Stanton said at a press conference Saturday, Oct. 26. Ard then went to Turner Park where she left her daughter under a bush, wrapped in a towel, Stanton said.
Results of the medical examiner’s autopsy are still pending, she said, but it’s believed that the newborn died in the park.
Stanton said Ard is married, but did not release any information about the baby’s father due to privacy concerns.
A resident found the baby after his dog, which was leashed, was investigating the area under the bush where the newborn was, Stanton said. The man called 9-1-1 from his cellphone at 9:34 a.m. and reported the baby was not breathing, she said.
Police located Ard after she called for medical assistance the evening of Oct. 15. Stanton said Anchorage Fire Department medics who were responding to a female in Eagle River with injuries consistent to those of someone who might have given birth contacted APD.
Ard was scheduled to be arraigned in Anchorage Superior Court on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
If convicted, she faces 10 to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000, APD said.
Stanton said she didn’t know if Ard was aware of Alaska’s “safe haven” law, which permits people to leave an unwanted child up to 21 days old at specific locations or with certain professionals no questions asked.
Had Ard followed the law, Stanton said, she would not be facing a murder charge.
A baby can be left with a peace officer, community health aide, physician or hospital employee, or can be given to an employee or volunteer at a fire department or emergency medical service. A baby cannot be relinquished if there’s a court order regarding the custody of the child.
Ard, of Portsmouth, Va., joined the Army in 2009 at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, the Army said in a press release. She was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., from 2010 to 2013 before coming to Alaska in late September.
APD is taking the lead in the investigation, Stanton said, and the Army is assisting.
“We are working jointly on this,” she said.
Stanton said this type of case is rare, and it’s been nearly two decades since a similar situation occurred in the Anchorage area.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.