YORK, S.C. (AP) — A 50-year-old woman was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for killing her newborn daughter, whose stabbed body was found in a plastic bag in a South Carolina river in 1992.
A York County jury convicted Stacy Michelle Rabon of homicide by child abuse earlier this month. She was charged with her baby's death two years ago when her DNA sample taken in a 2019 drug arrest matched the DNA from the infant.
Rabon will be eligible for parole starting in 2031 because she was sentenced under the law in 1992 which allowed for shorter sentences for serious convictions.
Rabon told investigators she delivered the baby in a van by the Catawba River near Rock Hill, but then gave it up to a couple because she didn't want to keep her and never saw the child again.
Prosecutors said she made up that story after she was arrested. They said the infant was found wrapped in sheets inside a plastic bag in the river in August 1992 and was stabbed at least 50 times. Investigators couldn't determine if the baby died from the stab wounds or suffocated in the bag.
“Stacy Rabon threw her baby into that cold Catawba River — never looking back, abandoning her, keeping her secret for 29 years," said York County Sheriff’s deputy Lanelle Day, the detective who made the DNA link.
Rabon asked for mercy. She said her decision to give the child up to people she didn't know haunts her.
“I can’t think of anything but her face,” Rabon said. “Think about her everything, growing up -- all these things were taken from her because I made poor decisions.”
Circuit Court Judge Bill McKinnon said the life sentence was appropriate because the victim was so vulnerable.
“A newborn comes into this world looking for its parents to protect it,” McKinnon said. “This baby was stabbed more than 50 times.”
Rabon's lawyer said she is a much different person than the teen who had the baby more than 30 years ago. She came into court Wednesday in a wheelchair and needs surgeries.
The community called the girl "Baby Angel Hope” and buried her in 1992.