Imprisoned Belleville woman charged with murder of second child

News-DemocratMarch 28, 2014 

A Belleville woman in prison for attempting to kill one of her babies was charged Friday with murdering another child.

Elyse J. Mamino is serving a six-year prison sentence at the Lincoln Correctional Facility on an attempted murder conviction. She was scheduled to be released on Sunday.

But on Friday, Mamino, 28, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death in the death of a second child in St. Clair County. Her bail was set in that case at $1 million.

"After a period of thorough review by officers and the children's justice division, it became clear this was no longer a cold case," said State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

Belleville attorney John O'Gara confirmed on Friday that he will defend Mamino on the new charges.

"I intend to vigorously defend this case," O'Gara said.

In November 2008, Mamino tried to drown her newborn daughter in a toilet while attending a family party in Columbia, according to prosecutors and police. The baby, later named Victoria, was fished out of the toilet by a Columbia police officer who responded to a 911 call, noticed her move, then began resuscitation efforts.

Baby Victoria remained in a hospital for two weeks, but DCFS returned the child to Mamino's care for three months while the police continued their investigation.

During the course of the Monroe County investigation, police discovered she had given birth to another baby in September 2007 in Belleville. Belleville Police Department detectives, while executing a search warrant at Mamino's home at 5 N. 42nd St., discovered the remains of a baby boy.

There was evidence developed during the investigation that suggested the baby was born alive at the residence, then placed in a plastic bag causing the death of the child. The baby was then placed in the dresser draw until it was found by detectives.

The St. Clair County took possession of the baby boy's remains.

Baby Victoria was removed from Mamino's custody after the discovery of her brother's remains in February 2009. Mamino, a former teacher's aide who worked with children with autism at Franklin School in Belleville, was then charged with the attempted murder of Victoria. Mamino was found guilty but mentally ill in October 2009.

At that time, Mamino said that she didn't know she was pregnant, but then recanted that statement and said Victoria was born alive and was "gasping and kicking" after she placed her face-down in the toilet. Daniel Cuneo, a psychologist, evaluated Mamino and found she was "substantially depressed" and mental illness could have played a role in the crime.

During the investigation, Belleville Police Detective Sgt. Mark Heffernan said it was determined the baby was born alive and was later suffocated.

Columbia and Belleville Police never gave up over the last five years in their effort to bring justice for the baby, Heffernan said.

"This has been an ongoing investigation since we learned of the incident," Heffernan said. "We felt that she should be held accountable for her actions and we weren't going to give up."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570. Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or 618-239-2626.

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