National Post

Page URL:

December 29, 2000

Teenager lied about disposing of baby: police

Tests show no birth: Former Wal-Mart employee charged with mischief

Chris Lambie
The Daily News
National Post

Andrew Vaughan, The Canadian Press
Theresa Lea, 19, still insists she gave birth to a stillborn boy, then threw it in a Dumpster: "It was definitely a negative experience."

DARTMOUTH, N.S. - A 19-year-old woman has been charged with public mischief after police say she invented a story about throwing a newborn into a garbage bin.

Theresa Lea, of Dartmouth, appeared in court yesterday to face the charge that followed an intensive six-day investigation into her claims that she had given birth to a stillborn child then disposed of the body in a Dumpster.

However police said they ordered medical tests on Ms. Lea that indicated the woman had not given birth at all and they concluded that her story was a hoax.

"The story that she gave us that she had recently been pregnant, given birth and put the child in a Dumpster is false," said Constable Brenda Zima, a police spokeswoman.

"The criminal offence is that she led us into a false investigation."

Ms. Lea was released late yesterday after her bail hearing. She had been in jail since last Friday.

She insisted in an interview yesterday that she had in fact given birth to a baby boy, who was stillborn.

"It wasn't the best pregnancy in the whole world," Ms. Lea said yesterday, after a Dartmouth provincial court judge released her from custody.

"It was definitely a negative experience and I never want to repeat it."

Ms. Lea said a friend disposed of the stillborn child's remains but she did not know where the body was dumped.

Late last week, police received reports from a number of sources, including the woman's neighbours, about a woman who had been pregnant, but had not been seen with a baby.

Police questioned the woman after arresting her on an unrelated warrant, and allege she told them she had given birth and then disposed of the body in a Dumpster.

They searched the woman's house, then combed through dozens of garbage bins in the neighbourhood.

Const. Zima said the case received a lot of publicity.

"We've been working aggressively on this," she said.

"There was a lot of public concern and a lot of police concern surrounding these allegations."

Dennis Theman, the Crown prosecutor in the case, said Ms. Lea will have to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if she is fit to stand trial.

"She will have to undergo the examination both as to fitness [for trial] and her mental capacity at the time of this incident," he said.

Ms. Lea said she is having difficulty processing what has happened since police began investigating her case Saturday.

"But once I get an opportunity to talk to my best friend, things will work themselves out," she said.

"I'm probably going to spend the better part of the next two weeks outdoors.

"After several days, you really do get physical cravings for sunshine."

She will be back in court Jan. 16.

Ms. Lea also faces a charge of theft under $5,000 for allegedly stealing money from a Wal-Mart where she once worked.

"I just would like to live my life without everybody in my face," she said.

"I'm 19 years old and I have a lot ahead of me; this is not what I want to be remembered for."

Copyright © 2000 National Post Online