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Teen charged with death of baby found in store restroom

A 19-year-old northwest suburban woman has been charged with murder in the death of her newborn son, who was found dead in a garbage can in the restroom of a Salvation Army store in Streamwood last week. Jessica Cruz of Hanover Park has been charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death, according to Streamwood police.

A 19-year-old Hanover Park woman gave birth to a full-term baby boy in a Salvation Army store bathroom then wrapped a plastic bag around his neck, put him in a garbage can and covered his body with paper towels, prosecutors said.

The boy was born alive, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and it between 3-1/2 and 6 minutes for him to die by strangulation, authorities said.

Jessica Cruz, of the 2000 block of Osage Lane, was charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death, authorities said. In court Wednesday, Judge Jill Marisi ordered her held without bond, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

Cruz walked into the Salvation Army store at 1080 Barrington in Streamwood about 10 a.m. Nov. 4 and asked to use the bathroom. That’s where she gave birth to the boy, then placed him in a plastic garbage bag and tied the bag tightly around his neck, court records said.

She then placed the bag in a garbage can and covered the baby with paper towels to conceal him. She tried to clean up the blood and left the store, but entered a second store about a half-mile away a short time later, using the restroom there as well, court records said.

Employees at the second store found blood in the bathroom and Cruz was captured on video surveillance. Employees at the Salvation Army store found the infant in the garbage can.

Three witnesses from the Salvation Army store identified Cruz as the person who entered the bathroom and left it bloody. Four witnesses at the second store also identified Cruz.

An autopsy found the baby had an umbilical cord and placenta still attached and the garbage bag tightly wrapped around his neck. After the doctors removed the bag, they noticed marks on his neck consistent with having a bag tightly tied.

The boy suffered a neck hemorrhage and his cause of death was ruled homicide by strangulation, prosecutors said.

Cruz admitted to police she gave birth to the boy in the bathroom and didn’t look to see what gender he was. He was alive and moving when she put him in the plastic bag and wrapped it around his neck and put him in the garbage, she told police.

Cruz told authorities she didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant except for the baby’s father, even though she lived with her mother during the pregnancy. She also admitted to pretending to be her mother when police called her home, prosecutors said.

Cruz has no criminal history and will appear for a preliminary hearing at the Rolling Meadows courthouse on Dec. 2, Simonton said.