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Fort Worth woman accused of trying to flush stillborn baby

FORT WORTH -- A woman who took her deceased baby to a hospital last month, telling authorities that she’d given birth to the stillborn boy inside her Fort Worth apartment, was arrested Tuesday on accusations that she initially tried to flush the baby down the toilet.

Ericka Benitez, 27, was arrested Tuesday morning on a warrant for abuse of a corpse, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, as well as unrelated warrants.

She was still being booked into jail Tuesday afternoon.

Police have said Benitez brought the dead baby, wrapped in trash bags, to John Peter Smith Hospital about 12:45 a.m. on April 17.

Benitez initially told detectives with the Crimes Against Children Unit that she had given birth to the baby inside her apartment on April 15 after falling ill and placed his body in the trash until coming to the hospital.

After hospital personnel told investigators that the baby’s temperature and color were not consistent with being dead for that long, police say the woman changed her story, telling investigators that she had given birth to the boy the previous day and had placed him in the trash after she was unable to flush the fetus down the toilet.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has ruled the baby’s death natural, caused by intrauterine fetal demise or stillbirth.