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New Jersey teen suffocated newborn; baby tossed in dumpster, cops say

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“The investigation is active and ongoing and we have two suspects in custody,” said Christopher Swendeman, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Erik Larsen and Andrew Goudsward, Wochit

NEPTUNE, N.J. – After concealing her pregnancy from her parents since July, a Neptune High School student gave birth to a baby boy at her home a week ago, then suffocated him before the baby’s father tossed him in a dumpster, according to authorities.

The grisly details about the death of the newborn — named Legend by his mother — were included in an affidavit of probable cause that led to a first-degree murder charge Friday against the mother, Jada M. McClain, 18, of Neptune. The Asbury Park Press had requested a copy of the document from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which was released late Friday night.

McClain and the man believed to be the child’s father, Quaimere Mohammed, 19, of Asbury Park, also were charged with second-degree disturbing or desecrating the remains of their son. The infant’s father was not implicated in the murder. 

McClain told police that several days before the birth, she had had a conversation with Mohammed about what she would do after giving birth. One option that the couple discussed was that she would kill the baby after the birth, all according to the affidavit.

Mohammed told her that “they have to do what’s best for them,” the document said.

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Investigators said they were tipped off about the infanticide when a female friend of McClain’s contacted police in Asbury Park on Thursday to report that McClain had given birth to a baby the week before who was now deceased. The friend also told investigators that she had been with McClain in November when McClain had taken a self-administered pregnancy test that appeared to confirm she was with child.

In February, McClain showed off her stomach to her friend, which had swelled due to the pregnancy. McClain told her friend that she was drinking, smoking “weed” and taking pills in an effort to kill her unborn child, all according to the affidavit.

The identity of the friend was redacted from the copy of the affidavit given to the Press.

Last Sunday, McClain contacted the friend via the messaging app Snapchat to inform her that she had delivered the baby in the early morning hours of March 29 and that she had suffered a great deal of pain during the birth — although McClain did not specify where she delivered the baby nor what she had since done with the newborn, the affidavit said.

However, she did send her friend two photos of her son. In the pictures, the baby appeared to be “blue and purple” with “dry” lips and “puffy” eyes, according to the affidavit. The friend could see the photos were taken in McClain’s bedroom as the friend had been in the room more than 10 times in the past. She noticed McClain’s dresser and bedroom wall in the background of the images.

Later that same day, McClain told her friend in a text message that she was bleeding as the result of the labor. McClain further made clear that she had not had a miscarriage and that she had named her son Legend, according to the affidavit.

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Detectives intercepted McClain on Thursday as she left work in Wall. She was taken to Neptune police headquarters where she waived her Miranda rights, agreed to be interviewed by investigators and confessed to the murder, police said.

McClain told the detectives that she had been dating Mohammed when she discovered she was pregnant sometime in July. At that time, she chose to conceal her pregnancy from her parents.

She had considered getting an abortion, but because she was underage at the time she decided against it, as she thought she would have been required under New Jersey law to get the permission of one of her parents to have the procedure, she told investigators.

In fact, in New Jersey, no such permission is needed. The state Supreme Court in 2000 struck down a law that would have required a parent be notified.

McClain explained that she had given birth to a son about 4 a.m. March 29 in  the bathroom of her mother’s Neptune home. She delivered the child while seated on the toilet but prevented the baby from falling into the water of the toilet bowl, according to the affidavit.

She said that the baby was crying at the time of his birth and after he was born, she went into the shower to clean herself and the baby.

She then took the baby into her bedroom and placed him on his back — on her bed. That’s when and where she used both of her hands to press on the baby’s chest to stop him from breathing, she told investigators, according to the affidavit.

“Jada explained that prior to placing her hands on her baby’s chest, she disclosed that the baby was breathing and that her intention was to stop her baby from breathing,” the affidavit read.

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About 6 a.m., McClain said she called Mohammed on her cellphone to inform him that she had delivered their child.

After speaking with him, she wrapped her baby in a blanket and placed the infant in a bag. She put the bag in the backseat of her Volkswagen Jetta, she said, according to the affidavit.

McClain then picked up Mohammed and the couple went to the ocean where they remained for about one hour. They then drove back to Mohammed’s home and sat in the car again for about one hour before pulling into the parking lot of the Washington Village apartment complex in Asbury Park, the affidavit read.

McClain told investigators that Mohammed got out of the car at the complex and discarded the baby’s remains in a trash dumpster, police said.

She later traveled with detectives to the Washington Village apartment complex to identify the trash dumpster that she said Mohammed had discarded the baby’s remains in, authorities said.

The Asbury Park Police Department later reviewed video surveillance recordings from Washington Village on March 29, which showed McClain’s Jetta arriving in the complex about 9:30 a.m.

The video also recorded Mohammed getting out of the front passenger seat and discarding what appeared to be a blue colored trash bag into the dumpster, according to the affidavit.

New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act allows people to give up an unwanted infant without fear of arrest. You can bring a baby less than 30 days old to any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid and rescue squads that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the state Department of Children and Families, with no questions asked. The department will take the child and place the infant in a foster or preadoptive home.

The criminal investigation was ongoing Saturday. Authorities ask anyone with relevant information to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Wayne Raynor at 800-533-7443 or Neptune police Detective Nick Taylor at 732 988-8000, ext. 410.

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Follow Erik Larsen and Andrew Goudsward on Twitter: @Erik_Larsen and @AGoudsward

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