Red Wing woman arrested in deaths of two babies found deceased in 1999 and 2003

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 11:50 AM CDT
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GOODHUE COUNTY, Minn. (KTTC) – Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news conference Monday the arrest of a woman for the 2003 death of a newborn baby boy discovered deceased in Lake Pepin and the 1999 death of a baby girl discovered deceased in the Mississippi River.

Jennifer Lynn Matter, 50, of Belvidere Township, was recently identified through DNA as the mother of both babies.

“I’m here today to announce the arrest of the mother of these two babies,” said Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly.

Goodhue County deputies and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agents took Matter into custody at 6:38 a.m. Monday at her home in Belvidere Township.

Matter 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.

“Many members in our office have come and gone, and it is these two cases that have lingered in their minds and in their hearts,” said Kelly.

According to the BCA Superintendent Drew Evans, the advancements in technology led to the advancements in the investigation of the deaths of the two babies.

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.

“We utilized genetic genealogy which provided the lead that ultimately led to today’s arrest,” said Evans.

The newborn baby boy was discovered in Lake Pepin at the Methodist Campus Beach in Frontenac, Goodhue County on December 7, 2003. The child had been in the water for a day or so prior to discovery.

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.

Matter is scheduled to appear in Goodhue County District Court on Tuesday.

“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,” Kelly said. “We pray today’s arrest and charges provide some closure to all of those effected.”

Watch the news conference below:

The cases have gone unsolved for decades.

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