LAKELAND — It started out as an investigation into a possible miscarriage by a pregnant 14-year-old.
It ended up as a homicide investigation, with the teen under arrest after detectives say she admitted to strangling her newborn to death.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Cassidy Goodson, age 14, told detectives she choked the baby to ‘stop him from breathing.’ She was arrested and charged with premeditated first degree murder, a capital felony, and aggravated child abuse, a first degree felony.
The teen was arrested late on Thursday, Sept. 27, then medically screened and cleared to be transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center, then the Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility.
The investigation started on Wednesday, Sept. 19, when medical staff at Lakeland Regional Medical Center contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s and members of the Florida Department of Children and Families after treating Goodson, who lives at Greenbrier Village Drive in Lakeland.
The hospital’s staff said the teen had come there to report a miscarriage, but after she was examined, they forwarded the information to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
The investigation took a morbid turn around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, when deputies got a call from the teen’s mother that a full term baby had been discovered inside a shoebox, along with soiled clothing, at their Greenbrier Village home.
“Teresa Goodson, Cassidy’s mother, had been collecting dirty laundry when she smelled an odor in Cassidy’s room,” noted Donna Wood, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on this case. “She collected soiled items from the room and found the deceased newborn among the laundry items.”
Homicide detectives were called to the home, where they interviewed Cassidy Goodsoin, who told them she began to feel ill on Monday, Sept. 17, and the discomfort continued for two days.
Sometime between 7-10 a.m. on Sept. 19, the teen went into the bathroom and went into labor.
“Realizing she was delivering, she placed a towel in her mouth and turned on the bathroom water to conceal any noise she might make during the delivery,” Wood noted. “As the pain of labor increased, Cassidy took a pair of scissors to ‘pry the baby out.’ ”
She delivered an infant boy, weighing 9.5 pounds. The 20.4 inch boy was delivered alive in the toilet.
“Cassidy lifted the moving infant from the toilet, felt for a pulse, found one, then placed her hands around the infant’s neck and squeezed until he wasn’t moving or breathing any longer,” Wood noted. “She took the infant’s pulse again and found none. Cassidy then began to clean up the bathroom, bathing herself and the dead infant before placing him in a shoebox along with soiled towels and clothing.”
Detectives would then discover that the teen, who weighs 100 pounds and is approximately 5 feet 3 inches tall, “had been attempting to conceal her pregnancy from her family by wearing baggy clothing for the past several months,” Wood said. “Some members of the family suspected the teen was pregnant and counseled Teresa Goodson regarding the teen’s changing appearance. During this time, Mrs. Goodson denied her daughter’s pregnancy, advising family members that two home pregnancy tests were administered and showed no positive result.”
Both tests, Wood noted, were conducted by the teen, alone and in private, with no parent in the room, “because Mrs. Goodson wanted to protect her daughter’s privacy.”
An autopsy determined the victim was a full term infant and was alive and breathing just prior to his death, the result of asphyxia from strangulation and blunt force trauma.
The investigation is on-going, Wood added.
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