ST. PAUL — The Goodhue County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) today announced an arrest in the 2003 death of a newborn baby boy discovered deceased in Lake Pepin in 2003.
The woman, Jennifer Lynn Matter, 50, of Belvidere Township, was recently identified through DNA as the child's mother.
Goodhue County deputies and BCA agents took Matter into custody at 6:38 a.m. Monday at her Belvidere Township home without incident. She has been charged via complaint with Second Degree Murder – With Intent – Not Premeditated and Second Degree Murder – Without Intent. Matter is currently in the Goodhue County Jail. Matter is scheduled to appear in Goodhue County District Court on Tuesday. Additional information about the charges is available in the criminal complaint. Her booking photo is provided here on behalf of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office.
The baby boy was discovered deceased on December 7, 2003, in Lake Pepin at the Methodist Campus Beach in Frontenac. A second child, a newborn baby girl found deceased on November 4, 1999, in the Lower Boat Harbor of the Mississippi River near Red Wing, was also determined through DNA to be Matter's child.
While exhaustive investigative efforts over the years did not lead to a suspect, a recent effort to learn about the babies' parentage through genetic genealogy resulted in a lead that ultimately led investigators to Matter. Investigators obtained a court order to obtain a DNA sample from Matter and BCA forensic scientists confirmed the match to both children using Rapid DNA technology.
"The tenacity of several investigators in our office to obtain justice for these babies and the perseverance by our community who assisted us in finding answers have led us here today," Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly said. “We pray today's arrest and charges provide some closure to all of those effected."
“Genetic genealogy and Rapid DNA testing were both employed to develop a break in the case and then quickly confirm the identity of the babies' mother," BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said. “These kinds of scientific advances that can aid investigations are happening all the time. That is why it is so important to never give up on any unsolved case."
“I want to recognize the persistence, hard work, and dedication of our law enforcement professionals who have put so much of themselves into solving this case," Goodhue County Attorney Stephen O'Keefe said.
The genetic genealogy work was completed by Parabon NanoLabs. Learn more about genetic genealogy testing. This testing was funded by donations from the people of Goodhue County. All agencies involved in this investigation and prosecution are appreciative of the community for their contribution that ultimately led to a break in this case.