DODGE COUNTY, Wis. — *Content Warning: This story involves graphic details involving the death of a newborn.
The mother of "Baby Theresa" was sentenced to three years of probation for the 2009 death of her newborn baby, who was found dead in a garbage bag in the town of Theresa.
Karin Luttinen, a 46-year-old Milwaukee woman, was sentenced Friday by Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Kristine Snow for "Concealing the Death of Child." According to the Dodge County District Attorney's Office, the court also imposed 1.5 years of prison and two years of extended supervision to be served only if Luttinen fails to complete her probation.
The court is also requiring Luttinen to serve six months of jail as a condition of probation, pay a $5,000 fine, complete 60 hours of community service, as well as undergo mental health treatment.
On April 29, 2009, deputies responded to Lone Road in the town of Theresa and confirmed a newborn had been found dead in a garbage bag. Authorities tried but were not able to identify family members of the baby at the time. The child was laid to rest in Dodge County, and the case was titled "Baby Theresa" after the town.
The medical examiner's office later concluded that the child had not been killed, instead describing the death as "fetal demise," indicating the child may have died before or during birth.
In 2014, authorities filed a charge against the then unknown mother's DNA, in order to prevent the six-year statute of limitations - allowing prosecutions years later.
In 2021, the mother was identified as Luttinen. According to a criminal complaint, investigators interviewed Luttinen in January of 2021. She denied ever being pregnant and voluntarily provided a DNA sample. The complaint says Luttinen's long-term partner did not know she was pregnant.
Luttinen allegedly told investigators she didn't know she was pregnant at first and that she was "a lot bigger back then" and her menstruation was irregular. The complaint says Luttinen allegedly knew towards the end of her pregnancy she was for sure pregnant, but was in denial and could not grasp the concept.
According to the complaint, Luttinen's water broke on the toilet and the delivery occurred in the bathtub. She allegedly delivered the baby by herself into the water and passed out in the bathtub afterward. She told investigators it all happened quickly. Luttinen also told investigators she allegedly did not hear the baby cry or move and believed the umbilical cord was partially wrapped around the baby's neck, the complaint says. She allegedly told investigators she did not intentionally turn on the water so the baby couldn't breathe, she had it on to get comfortable because she was in pain.
Luttinen also said she went "blank" and blacked out for 15 minutes.
The complaint continues to state that Luttinen panicked and placed the baby in a towel and then in a garbage bag. She then drove "aimlessly" and "placed her baby in the woods as a final resting place."
Luttinen told investigators she did not tell anyone because she was scared, the complaint says.
Luttinen faced a maximum of a $10,000 fine, 3.5 years in prison, 1.5 years of initial confinement, and 2 years of supervision.
In Luttinen's sentencing Friday, Dodge County District Attorney Kurt F. Klomberg said, “hiding a pregnancy and giving birth at home to a stillborn child are not criminal acts in Wisconsin, but disposing the child’s remains in the woods in a trash bag clearly is a felony. Moreover, going home, acting like nothing happened, and hiding it all from the child’s father for over a decade while the couple built a life together is unconscionable