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Remains of 4 infants found

Maryland mother charged with one death; may be responsible for all

            OCEAN CITY, Md. — Police with cadaver-sniffing dogs, shovels and a backhoe dug Monday outside the home of a woman charged with killing her baby boy, widening a grim search that has turned up four tiny sets of remains.

            None of the remains appeared to be those of full-term babies, police said, including those of the most newly delivered infant, a boy, who was found in a vanity below the bathroom sink in Christy Freeman’s home.

            Two trash bags containing separate sets of human bones were found in a trunk in her bedroom, and another set of remains was found in a bag in a small recreational vehicle parked in her driveway. All four were believed to be from fetuses Freeman carried, police said.

            Police kept searching in the scrubby, overgrown yard outside Freeman’s house after the cadaver dogs hit on new possible scents.

            ‘‘I want to clear my name in this case,’’ Freeman, 37, told a judge at a bond hearing Monday when she was ordered held without bail on first-degree murder and other charges in the most recent death. ‘‘If you offer me a bond, I’m not going to leave. ... I’m going to be here. I’m going to help clear this situation up.’’

            Soon after the hearing, police said the chief medical examiner’s preliminary report found that the baby boy was stillborn, but the cause of death was still under investigation. Police spokesman Barry Neeb said it was possible the charges against Freeman could be amended as a result.

            Freeman, who has four other children, came to authorities’ attention Thursday, when emergency medical technicians and police were called to her apartment on the second floor of a small, rundown white house behind a 7-Eleven that faces the Coastal Highway, the main north-south route in this resort town.

            Her boyfriend, Raymond W. Godman Jr., said that Freeman had passed out in the bathroom and that he carried her to the sofa, according to the charging documents. She was lying down and bleeding heavily, and had a garbage bag and towels under her.

            She initially denied having been pregnant even after she was taken to a hospital Thursday and doctors discovered a placenta and part of an umbilical cord, police said. She eventually told police she had delivered a dead and deformed baby — claiming that she did not see any hands or feet — and that she had flushed the body down the toilet, according to charging documents.

            Police got a search warrant and found the infant wrapped in a white towel with a blue stripe in the cabinet below the bathroom sink, according to the charging documents, in which authorities describe the baby as a ‘‘viable fetus/infant,’’ with hands, feet and facial features.

            Police then found the two sets of remains and a placenta in the bedroom trunk Thursday, and a plastic bag with the fourth infant’s corpse Friday in the motor home.

            The boy she was charged with killing was stillborn, and looked to be in the 26th week of pregnancy, police said, citing the medical examiner’s preliminary report.

            The chief medical examiner in Baltimore was examining the remains and trying to determine the causes of deaths, ages and if they were related to Freeman.

            Prosecutor Joel Todd said Freeman was charged with murder under a 2005 state law authorizing murder convictions for fetuses killed after 20 weeks. The statute, however, does not specify how old the fetus must be; it says only that prosecutions are allowed for the deaths of viable fetuses, a standard the state medical examiner has said is generally around seven months.

            Todd did not immediately return a call Monday evening seeking clarification.

            Earlier, Todd said investigators are still probing whether Freeman caused the babies’ deaths.

            ‘‘We will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she did something to cause that baby to be stillborn,’’ he said.

            Police Chief Bernadette DiPino declined to discuss any evidence about how the baby could have been born dead, such as whether Freeman induced an abortion.

            Freeman and Godman, who owned a cab company called Classic Taxi, lived with her other children at the home, where paint was peeling from the exterior and an air conditioning unit was rusting. Fishing poles were stored on an upstairs balcony.

            Bulldozers cleared mounds of dirt from the backyard, while police taped off her block and erected a temporary wall to shield the investigation. By dusk Monday, no additional human remains had been found.

            Police said the other children were safe and were in the custody of Godman, believed to be the father of those four and the four whose remains were found, DiPino said. He was still being interviewed but has not been charged, investigators said.

            Classic Taxi specializes in using cars from the 1950s and 1960s, according to the company’s Web site. On the Web site, Freeman’s profile said that she and Godman had been a couple since 1988 and that her hobbies were ‘‘our four children.’’ She said the family were NASCAR fans and liked to fish, boat and camp together.

            A man who answered the phone at Classic Taxi declined to comment.

            Ron Cecil, 71, owner of Aaron Taxi, said he had met Freeman through the local taxi association and said he saw her driving a cab several weeks ago. The charging documents described Freeman as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighing 180 pounds, and Cecil said she often wore sweat shirts.

            ‘‘She could have easily been pregnant and it not have been known,’’ he said.

            Neighbor Jodi Kerlin, 31, said she saw Freeman about a month ago as Freeman took out her trash and it appeared then that Freeman might have been pregnant. ‘‘The thought passed through my head,’’ said Kerlin, who recently gave birth. ‘‘I passed it off.’’

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