A baby born in a bathroom at a high school prom in New Jersey on Friday was alive during birth, Monmouth County officials said Monday, but they have not determined whether the 6-pound, 6-ounce boy was breathing independently of the mother after the umbilical cord was cut.
If the baby’s lungs were functioning on their own, prosecutors said, they could file murder or manslaughter charges against the girl, who left the little boy’s body in a trash container in the bathroom, then went back to the dance floor and asked the disc jockey to play “The Unforgiven” by the heavy metal band Metallica.
Although authorities are treating the case as a potential homicide, the teenager was allowed to remain in the custody of her parents.
Robert Honecker, the second assistant prosecutor in Monmouth County, said that the medical examiner was looking for signs that air sacs in the baby’s lungs had been inflated, which would indicate whether the boy had drawn even a single breath. He said he expected the results of tests later in the week.
The Star-Ledger of Newark and WCAU-TV in Philadelphia identified the mother as Melissa Drexler, an 18-year-old vocational-technical student.
Honecker said that officials had found no one who knew about the pregnancy, including her prom date, her parents or school officials. The prom date said he is probably the father, according to Honecker. Officials would not release his name.
Other seniors at the prom said they had no idea what had happened in the bathroom, where the baby’s body was discovered after other students complained there was blood on the floor in one of the toilet stalls. “There were rumors going around with the limo drivers,” Nicole Dunich, a senior, said.
Some students said that the incident had become the subject of jokes and that words like “baby drop” had been scrawled on school trash cans.