Report: U. of Illinois student to plead guilty in death of newborn found in backpack

Lindsay Johnson

Champaign County Sheriff's Office

URBANA, Ill. -- A University of Illinois student charged with killing her newborn in a residence hall bathroom last year will plead guilty as a part of a plea deal with prosecutors, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Lawyers for Lindsay Johnson, 20, of Monee, wouldn’t tell the paper what charges she would plead guilty to on April 7.

“With the loving support of her family, Lindsay has made the difficult decision to enter into a plea agreement in April that will resolve the criminal charges filed against her,” the lawyers said in a statement released following Johnson’s Thursday court appearance.

Officers found Johnson near the campus’ music building in March of 2016 wearing a backpack with the deceased newborn inside, authorities said. They were looking for her after responding to a call earlier in the day from a student at the dorm who reported sounds of a baby crying and that Johnson was in the bathroom for a long time.

Johnson, a sophomore studying agricultural communications, was charged with first-degree murder, child endangerment and concealment of a homicidal death.

Prosecutor Julia Rietz said Johnson gave birth sometime after 1:30 p.m. March 13, and told officers she had the stomach flu and didn’t need help.

Police were called back to the residence hall about two hours later when they found blood in the bathroom. Johnson was not there. When they found her walking, she said she was going to a nearby hospital.

She initially told police she didn’t know she was pregnant until she went into labor and the baby wasn’t breathing when it was born, but later admitted the boy was alive and crying, the newspaper reported. An autopsy of the child offered no explanation for his death.