A Henrico, Virginia, woman has been accused to attempting to kill her newborn daughter by wrapping her in a plastic bag and pillowcase and leaving her in the dryer to die.
Angela Janecka, a 39-year-old stay-at-home-mom, gave birth to the baby girl at home and then called her husband who was at work and told him that she had given birth and the baby had been stillborn. She told him that medical staff that had helped her with the delivery had already taken the baby’s body away.
However, when her husband came home and began cleaning he heard a scratching sound coming from the dryer. Inside he found his 8 pound baby daughter – still alive.
Instead of calling 911, the couple called Janecka’s 8-year-old son’s pediatrician’s office and got the answering service. The service called 911 and police and the baby was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital.
According to Henrico Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nancy Oglesby, “The baby is alive and well, which is the saving grace of all of this.”
Authorities say that Janecka allegedly told her husband previously that the fetus she was carrying had died but that doctors had advised her to carry it to term.
On Wednesday, a judge ordered Janecka to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Robert J. Resnick, a clinical psychologist, said that prenatal and postpartum depression can alter a woman’s state of mind and behavior. However, he said that the type of pregnancy related psychosis and delusions that could motivate a woman to act in the way Janecka did are extremely rare and difficult to prove in court.
“That’s a very difficult issue because what we call mentally ill is not the same as what the law defines as insanity,” Resnick said according to a report by WTVR CBS 6.
According to CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone, Jenecka’s attorneys could use her state of mind as part of her defense plea, but it would be very difficult to prove in court.
“In order to establish an insanity defense, you have to show there’s a pre-existing psychological condition that makes it such that you don’t know the nature or character of what you’re doing, or you don’t know the difference between right and wrong,” Stone said.
Janecka has been charged with attempted murder and felony child neglect. She is currently being held without bond.