DODGE COUNTY, Wis. — Dodge County authorities announced Friday they have charged a Milwaukee woman in the 2009 death of her newborn baby, who was found dead in a garbage bag in the town of Theresa.
The Dodge County sheriff, medical examiner and district attorney held a joint press conference to announce 45-year-old Karin Luttinen of Milwaukee has been charged with concealing the death of a child - issue of a woman. If she is found guilty, she could be fined as much as $10,000 and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison: 1.5 years of initial confinement and 2 years of supervision.
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 statue of limitations - allowing prosecutions years later.
In 2021, the mother was identified as Karin 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 afterwards. 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 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.
"After speaking to the person of interest and learning about the circumstances surrounding the birth, it was determined by the Medical examiner that the cause of death remain as a fetal demise and therefore reckless homicide charges would not apply," the complaint says.
Luttinen made her initial appearance in Dodge County Court on Friday and made her $2,500 bail.
"The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and the Dodge County Medical Examiner still mourn the death of Baby Theresa, but we are thankful that resolution has taken place. While this certainly has been a shocking discovery for us all, especially to the family of Baby Theresa, closure can now begin for all those touched," according to a statement from the sheriff's office.
Authorities on Friday did not give specifics regarding how the mother was identified.