Edmonton Sun

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Jailed crack mom gives birth to girl

By NICOLE BERGOT, EDMONTON SUN

A fugitive American crack addict collared in Edmonton last week on abduction charges has given birth to a healthy baby girl at a city hospital, says the child's grandmother.

"She had a little girl and the nurses say the baby looks beautiful, perfect, but the next 24 hours will tell," said Dale Cottet, from her Arlington, Washington, home last night.

The infant, Sarah Nicole, was delivered at 5:38 p.m. yesterday, three hours after Royal Alexandra Hospital staff induced Janine Schindler's labour. A birth weight was not available.

"Her water broke and then the labour stopped so they induced," said Cottet. The 34-year-old Schindler called her mom in tears 20 minutes after the birth.

"She's alone and apprehensive because she doesn't know what's going to happen next but there were also happy tears that the baby's OK," said Cottet.

Schindler, whose due date was Feb. 6, was arrested at gunpoint along with her 32-year-old boyfriend, Jeff Pilkenton, outside an Edmonton gas station on Thursday, ending a two-week Canada-U.S. manhunt.

The mom of three other girls, aged 15, 14 and two, is accused of abducting her two-year-old daughter, Heather Parker, from Cottet's home on Jan. 5. Schindler and Pilkenton, Sarah Nicole's father, face extradition and charges in Washington.

Authorities returned Heather to Cottet, the girls' legal guardian, on Friday after she travelled to Edmonton. Now Cottet just wants her newest granddaughter in her arms.

"Everyone's concerned about what's going to happen next. When are we going to get to see the baby and there's just a whole lot of unanswered questions," she said.

Schindler, being held here for possession of stolen property, had hoped city police would stay the charges and send her home so her baby would be born in the U.S.

But she now anticipates being ushered straight from the hospital back to jail - without her baby - today or tomorrow.

Sarah Nicole will likely be placed briefly in foster care until authorities can determine how to best reunite her with family - if and when doctors determine she has no outstanding medical requirements, said Alberta Children's Services spokesman Jerry Bellikka.

"It's a complicated legal situation but it doesn't preclude us from placing the child with appropriate family members in the States," he said.

The child is a dual citizen.

Schindler and Pilkenton are to appear in a city courtroom on the stolen property charges Thursday for election and plea. An extradition date may also be set then.

Cottet obtained a court order last year stating Schindler will not get to see her children or get them back until she undergoes drug counselling. "If this is what it takes for her to really get some help, our goal is to one day see her have a future with her children," said Cottet.

Schindler claims she has not used crack since October.

Researchers have documented that children born to crack users are often premature, have a low birthweights, smaller brain size and poor language skills.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.