Metro-East News

Charge: Baby born in toilet, tossed from second-floor window

Father Clyde Grogan and Mount Carmel Cemetery office manager Dee Dee Murray pray at Jeremiah Jackson's grave on Thursday morning.
Father Clyde Grogan and Mount Carmel Cemetery office manager Dee Dee Murray pray at Jeremiah Jackson's grave on Thursday morning. News-Democrat

He died without experiencing a breath or being given a name — delivered into a toilet bowl at a home on North 23rd Street in East St. Louis, where his mother stayed occasionally.

Baby Boy Jackson, as he is known at the St. Clair County Coroner’s Office, would now be 21 months old, walking and even running. But Baby Boy Jackson is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Belleville dressed in clothes, diapers and placed in a coffin, all donated by Nash Funeral Home. No one came to make arrangements.

The 3-pound, 6-ounce baby boy was taken out of the toilet, wrapped in a green and white towel and thrown out a second-floor window on Sept. 28, 2013, according to police.

After the delivery, the mother, Ciara A. Jackson, 25, of 421 S. 40th St. in Centreville, went out on a date, but later required medical attention which led to the discovery of the birth. The baby was later found in a brush pile next to an abandoned house.

On Friday, Ciara A. Jackson was charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death by St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.

“Thankfully and mercifully, this is not a fact pattern we encounter every day. There were unique evidentiary issues that required follow-up investigation and consultation with very specialized forensic experts,” Kelly said.

At an autopsy the day after the baby was found, forensic pathologist Dr. Raj Nanduri unzipped the infant-sized body bag and examined the 15½-inch corpse.

According to Nanduri’s report, the baby had been carried for 28 to 30 weeks. Normal gestation is around 40 weeks. After she removed the umbilical cord and placenta, the baby weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces.

Baby Boy Jackson appeared normal and healthy, besides a mild edema or swelling of the scalp, the pathologist reported.

The lungs, according to Nanduri, were normal, but showed mild congestion. She noted that the lungs were “atelectatic and the floatation test was negative and the lungs sank.”

Congenital atelectasis occurs in fetuses or newborns when the lungs fail to expand at birth, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. This can be caused by prematurity, diminished stimulation of the nervous system to spur breathing and crying. Respiratory distress syndrome also affects some newborns, the website stated. It is common in premature babies whose lungs to have enough of a liquid called surfactant, a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs and helps keep the air sacs open.

The final autopsy findings were that Baby Boy Jackson was delivered into a toilet and drowned. His lungs never filled with air.

Cocaine was found in his blood and liver.

“The fetus died from drowning. The postmortem toxicology revealed the presence of cocaine. The manner of death is classifiable as a homicide,” Nanduri wrote.

The charges, filed on Friday, stated that Ciara Jackson delivered the baby into the toilet and knowingly allowed Baby Boy Jackson to remain submerged with his face under water in the toilet.

Todd Stone, a defense attorney in Richmond, Va., said the case appears to be one built on the pathology findings.

“It sounds as if expert medical will come into this case heavily,” Stone said.

Murder charges mean that Baby Boy Jackson was alive, if only for a moment, Stone said. Because Caira Jackson was charged with murder, her acts must have been construed by prosecutors to be intentional, Stone said. If it were neglectful, they would more likely have charged the case as manslaughter, Stone noted.

Columbia Police Detective Karla Heine, who works for the Southern Illinois Child Death Task Force, investigated the case.

Baby Boy Jackson may have died without a name, but Joe Hubbard, founder of Catholic Urban Charities, and Father Clyde Grogan, stood at his graveside and gave him one.

“It was an incredible moment,” Grogan said. “We were there with this child who came from God to share this child back with God. It was such a privilege. In that moment, the hopefulness trumped the sadness. Whatever trauma the mother had in dealing with the baby, this loving God is holding her and the baby now.”

Hubbard said, “Everyone deserves some dignity.”

There is a headstone at Mount Carmel Cemetery Grave 72 for the baby who died without a name. It was donated anonymously. It is inscribed: “’Jeremiah’ Jackson, September 28, 2013, Our Guardian Angel.”