Utah woman planned death of premature baby, then disposed body off I-80, police say

Sep 26, 2023, 10:20 AM | Updated: 11:31 am

A Wasatch County woman was arrested for investigation of aggravated murder and accused of killing h...

A Wasatch County woman was arrested for investigation of aggravated murder and accused of killing her newborn son and disposing his body in Parleys Canyon. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

KAMAS — An 18-year-old Wasatch County woman has been arrested and accused of killing her 1-month-old son and disposing his body in Parleys Canyon.

Estrella Meza Ojeda was booked into the Wasatch County Jail over the weekend and charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and abuse or desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony. Her initial appearance in court is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Police say Ojeda deprived her son of supplemental oxygen that he needed to survive and planned his death “by researching and even attempting to take his life before ultimately causing his death,” according to a police booking affidavit.

“Estrella was overwhelmed with caring for a premature baby that needed extra care to survive and wished to go back to a single, nonmother, lifestyle and begin a new life with (her new boyfriend). She also took care not only to dispose of D.O.’s body, but also attempted to erase any and all traces of his birth, life and death,” the affidavit states.

Ojeda gave birth to a son, identified by police only by his initials “D.O.” on Aug. 6. The baby was born prematurely and “was unable to breathe on his own and required oxygen,” the affidavit says. After 22 days in the newborn intensive care unit, the infant was allowed to go home with Ojeda.

“Estrella was advised by medical staff that D.O. needed supplemental oxygen in order to live and was sent home with oxygen tanks and an oxygen monitor for hiim,” according to the affidavit.

On Sept. 1, the infant was taken to the hospital after he stopped breathing. Ojeda arrived at the hospital without her son’s oxygen and “was again told that it was vital for survival.” Detectives now believe “that this was an attempt to end D.O.’s life and that Estrella was either interrupted or could not go through with it at this time,” the affidavit alleges.

Search warrants would later reveal that on Sept. 3, Ojeda allegedly conducted internet searches for topics on how to take a baby’s life as well as the location of garbage dumps near her.

“The Google search bar showed recent searches stating, ‘How much time will I serve in prison for killing my baby?’ ‘Taking a baby’s life holy death,’ ‘Kamas sewage treatment plant,’ ‘Salt Lake solid waste,’ and ‘garbage dumps near me,'” the arrest report states.

Police say Ojeda searched for these topics eight days before her son died, “showing that Estrella was actively planning to cause his death and dispose of his body.”

Police and state workers attempted to conduct welfare checks on Ojeda and her son on Sept. 11 and Sept. 14 but could not find them. On Sept. 19, investigators say she was found at a residence in Kamas, but she “did not offer any information on D.O.’s whereabouts at this time.”

Ojeda was taken to the police department for questioning.

“Estrella stated that it had been difficult trying to raise a baby that needed special care and that she had wanted to go back to work. Estrella stated that she had made a rash decision without thinking,” according to the affidavit.

But after a pause, she claimed she had sent her infant son to Mexico to live with her mother. She claimed a man visiting from her hometown of Guerro, Mexico, was visiting and took the infant back with him.

“I asked repeatedly for information for anyone who could corroborate her story and she stated that only her mother and her sister (could), although their phone numbers were not working. She told me that D.O. is doing great and is being treated by a pediatrician in Mexico City,” detectives wrote in the affidavit.

Police noted that Mexico City is between four to five hours away from where she claimed the infant was living.

After several search warrants were served and police again questioned Ojeda, she claimed that on Sept. 10 she had borrowed her roommate’s car to meet someone at the store and took her son with her, but did not take his oxygen. At the store she says she believed her son was asleep. But when she returned home, “she stated that when she had removed D.O. from the vehicle, she noticed that he was dead. Estrella stated that D.O. was not breathing and that he did not have a pulse. She stated that she then drove D.O. toward Salt Lake City and disposed of his body on the side of the road,” according to the affidavit.

Ojeda agreed to show investigators where she allegedly disposed of the body. She took them to an exit off I-80 in Parleys Canyon where two large crosses for law enforcement memorials are on a hill. She stated she wrapped her son’s body in a blanket. Police searching the area found a piece of fabric on the ground.

“When Estrella saw this fabric, she began to sob and try to go to the area. After a brief search of the area, it was determined that due to lack of lighting and the possibility of animal activity in the area disturbing or removing D.O.’s body, it was determined to establish a search plan with cadaver dogs and more officers,” police wrote in the affidavit.

The court documents do not indicate whether the body has been found. Calls to the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately returned.

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Utah woman planned death of premature baby, then disposed body off I-80, police say