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Mom charged in death of abandoned infant
Detective trying to get the suspect returned to Utah

An infant whose body was found stashed at a St. George miniature golf course and was buried anonymously earlier this month was named Oliver.

Monday morning officers on the west side of Chicago arrested Oliver's mother, Rebekah Jolynn Woods, 34, for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. On Tuesday prosecutors in Washington County charged the mother with first-degree murder.A St. George detective was in Chicago Tuesday trying to get Woods transferred back to Utah.

"She has to go through an extradition hearing, but I think she'll probably come back," St. George Lt. Dennis Bailey said. If Woods decides to stay, police can get an official order mandating her return, Bailey said.

In an interview transcribed in 5th District Court documents, Woods told Chicago detective James Delafont she climbed a four-foot fence and placed the already-dead baby in a golf course pump house while she was waiting for a Las Vegas-bound bus. Woods said she named the baby Oliver and left him there so he would be found and buried.

Five days earlier on Jan. 18, Woods gave birth to the baby in a St. George motel room. Woods told Chicago police she knew the newborn was a "crack baby" because she had delivered a crack baby before and had smoked crack heavily during the pregnancy.

Medical personal had tried to assist Woods in her pregnancy after her water broke in front of a St. George grocery store. Woods, however, refused medical help and said she would give birth alone in her motel room, court documents state.

Although the baby wouldn't nurse and was very sick, Woods said she didn't take Oliver to the hospital because she was afraid the boy and her 2-year-old daughter, Odessa, would be taken from her. Instead, Woods enlisted the help of St. George resident Michael Mast, a man who had previously picked her up hitchhiking. At that time, Mast had obtained clothes, food and a place to stay for the barefoot and seven-months-pregnant hitchhiker.

"She was in poor health because she didn't eat properly. When she was at my house, she ate as much as she could," Mast said of his first encounter with Woods. "She said she felt the baby move for the first time after one of her meals."

Two months later, with newborn in hand, Woods again called on Mast for help. Mast came to the motel and helped Woods clean the room.

"The only thing she asked for was a pail. She is a very nice girl," Mast said. "She's not vicious at all, in fact, she's very sweet. . . . She was just very confused about what to do."

Woods, and her two children stayed with Mast until the morning of Jan. 23 when Woods awoke and found Oliver dead. She left Mast's home unannounced along with Odessa and the dead infant, hitching a ride to the bus stop where she obtained a ticket to Las Vegas.

Following leads, St. George investigators tracked down an abandoned Odessa in Las Vegas but before Monday had no luck finding Woods. Odessa is now living in Las Vegas foster care.

University of Utah genetics researchers had previously matched DNA samples from Woods' clothing to the baby's DNA and stated with 99.848 percent certainty that Woods was the mother, court documents state. Motivated by the genetic match, St. George police put notice on a national police database that Woods was wanted in Utah. When Woods was arrested in Chicago, officers there found her name on the database and contacted St. George police.

Woods told Chicago detectives she was from Olympia, Wash., and left there in September 1999. She traveled throughout the Western United States before stopping in St. George. Woods' other so-called "crack baby" is named Nyema and is living in Vancouver. Nyema will be 4 in June.

If Woods is convicted, she could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.