HEBER CITY, Utah, Sept. 26, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Heber City police have arrested an 18-year-old woman who allegedly ended the life of her premature son by withholding supplemental oxygen he needed to survive.
Estrella Meza-Ojeda was taken into custody Saturday for investigation of:
- Aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
- Obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
- Abuse or desecration of a dead human body, a third-degree felony
- Producing or transferring false identification, a third-degree felony
As in every case, charges will be determined by a review from the county attorney’s office.
Court documents say Meza-Ojeda, of Guerro, Mexico, had lived in the U.S. for about a year, and shared a Wasatch County apartment with a roommate. She gave birth to the premature boy on Aug. 6, and he remained in the hospital’s newborn intensive care until for 22 days before being sent home with Meza-Ojeda, who was given a supply of supplemental oxygen and an oxygen monitor the infant required.
On Sept. 1, another tenant of the apartments called dispatch to report the baby was not breathing. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and “healthcare staff stated at this time that Estrella had arrived without (the baby’s) oxygen, and was again told that it was vital for survival and was sent with smaller tanks for transportation,” charging documents say.
On Sept. 11, a welfare check on the baby was ordered since Meza-Ojeda had missed a follow-up medical appointment for the infant. Officers obtained a search warrant for the phone of Meza-Ojeda, and learned she had searched for content including “‘taking the life of a baby’ on or around 09/03/23,” among other searches related to “the Patron Saint of Death and holy death.”
On Sept. 14, Meza-Ojeda’s roommate told investigators “she had last seen Estrella and (the infant) on Monday, 09/11/23 morning as she was leaving for work. She stated that when she returned, Estrella and (the baby) were not at the apartment and that all of (the baby’s) clothing seemed to be gone, but his car seat and oxygen were still in the apartment.”
Post Miranda warning, Meza-Ojeda agreed to speak with officers, her affidavit says.
“Estrella stated that it had been difficult trying to raise a baby that needed special care and that she had wanted to go back to work. Estrella stated that she had made a rash decision without thinking. After a pause, she stated that she had called her mother and decided to send (the baby) to Mexico with a family friend,” Daniel, who was visiting the area.
Asked for phone numbers for Daniel and her mother, Meza-Ojeda said she didn’t have Daniel’s number, and gave a number that didn’t ring through for her mother, court documents say.
In a subsequent interview with a different officer, “she began agreeing with Sgt. Baeza that (the baby boy) was no longer alive,” the statement says. Meza-Ojeda told officers she had taken her roommate’s car to a Park City grocery store, but had not put the baby’s oxygen cannula on him.
“She stated that when she had removed (the infant) from the vehicle, she noticed that he was dead.” She said she drove toward Salt Lake City, and stopped to leave the baby’s blanket-wrapped body at the side of the road. At the time the affidavit was filed, the body had not yet been found.
Meza-Ojeda was booked into jail and ordered held without bail.