Grand jury indicts soldier in newborn's death

ANCHORAGE — A 24-year-old female Army soldier charged with second-degree murder in the case of a newborn girl found dead last week in a park was arrested Friday evening, Anchorage police said.

A grand jury indicted Spec. Ashley Ard earlier in the day, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.

The Portsmouth, Va., woman was held on $250,000 bond with arraignment expected Tuesday. It was not known if she had a lawyer.

A passer-by found the infant about 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 15 in Turner Park in the Eagle River area, wrapped in a towel and not breathing.

Police said fire department medics responded later that day to a woman who had possible injuries consistent with someone who just gave birth. Castro said that woman was Ard and investigators said she was the mother of the baby in the park.

Autopsy results on the newborn are pending.

Police allege that Ard gave birth at her residence in Eagle River and left the home with the newborn just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 15, leaving the baby under a bush in the park, Castro said.

Early that morning, temperatures were in the high 40s, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Ard entered the Army in October 2009 at Fort Jackson, S.C. Army spokesman John Pennell said in a statement issued from U.S. Army Alaska headquarters at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. She was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., from 2010 through 2013, and reported to Alaska in late September, the spokesman said.

Pennell said the Army is cooperating with Anchorage police.

Under Alaska’s “safe haven” law, a person can surrender his or her infant at many safe locations including fire stations, hospitals and police stations without facing criminal charges, the Daily News reported.

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