David Ovalle
Miami Herald

On July 15, the pain starts subtly about 10am. It is a Saturday, and Maria Eugenia Pacheco sheds her apron and gloves. Her head begins to throb. She feels like vomiting and staggers to the restroom. The two portable plastic toilets, each about three feet eight inches square, sit near an access road and several propane tanks used to heat plants in the winter. Inside, her head throbs and she throws up. For about 15 minutes, Maria sits in the toilet, dilating. Maria, she later claims, does not realize she is giving birth. Her son’s head emerges. She hears crying and feels something hanging from her body. The door remains closed, and in the stifling heat, Maria cannot yell for help. The boy, seven pounds, plunks into the water. Blood splatters the door and the inside of the half-used roll of toilet paper is placed in the urinal. “I was hearing that he was crying,” she remembers later. “I wanted to save him but I couldn’t. My heartfelt paralyzed.” Maria emerges from the bathroom. Her eyesight goes dark. Someone appears but she cannot tell who. “Let’s go get a trailer to load plants,” a voice says. It is a supervisor. Maria no longer hears the baby crying. She does not tell her supervisor about the baby. Instead, Maria says she has backed-up menstruation. “I thought, who knows what they are going to do to me, and I was scared,” she later tells Miami-Dade homicide detective Nick Pimentel. Maria returns home, looking sickly and pale. The following Monday, Maria returns to the nursery. That evening, a worker finds the baby boy floating in human waste. His tongue and lungs are coated blue from the toilet water’s chemical disinfectant. Miami-Dade homicide detectives are dispatched, and news reports begin. On Tuesday night, detectives knocked on Pacheco’s door to arrest her. The charge is first-degree murder.

(David Ovalle, Mother’s Journey Ends with Charges of Killing Her Baby, The Miami Herald, Dec. 10th, 2006)

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