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Mother of newborn found dead in park facing murder charge

Lisa Demer

A 24-year-old Army soldier whose newborn baby was found dead in an Eagle River park Oct. 15 was jailed Friday evening on a single charge of second-degree murder, Anchorage police said.

A grand jury handed up the indictment against Ashley Ard of Eagle River on Friday. The Army said she only arrived in Alaska late last month.

She gave birth at home and then left with the newborn just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, police said in a written statement Friday evening. She left her newborn daughter in Turner Park under a bush, wrapped in a towel, police said. Someone found the baby, still wrapped in a towel, but not breathing. Anchorage police got a call about the baby at 9:34 a.m.

The small park is in a residential area west of the Eagle River town center between the Glenn Highway and the Old Glenn Highway. The temperatures were in the high 40s in the early morning that Tuesday.

That afternoon, Anchorage Fire Department medics were called to a home in Eagle River to help a woman with "possible injuries consistent to those of someone who might have given birth," police said in the statement. They alerted police, and detectives went to the home and interviewed a woman they identified as Ard. She was hospitalized.

Ard is from Portsmouth, Va., and enlisted in October 2009 at Fort Jackson, S.C., the Army said Friday evening. She was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., from 2010 to 2013. She is a specialist, an enlisted rank above private first class and below sergeant, and began serving at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson late last month, the Army said.

The Army has been cooperating with Anchorage police in the investigation into the baby's death, it said in a statement.

Ard is being held in the Anchorage jail on $250,000 bail with a requirement for a third-party custodian, police said.

The state medical examiner conducted an autopsy of the baby but the results are not yet complete, police said. Police haven't said if the baby was premature or what they believe caused her death.

Police detectives plan to talk to reporters on Saturday.

Ard is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, police said.

The indictment says she "knowingly engaged in conduct that resulted in the death of another person under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Under Alaska's "safe haven" law, a person can surrender his or her infant at many safe locations including fire stations, hospitals and police stations without facing criminal charges.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com
Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on