The 19-year-old mother of a baby found dead in a dorm bathroom at Hiram College pleaded not guilty Friday morning.
The woman, identified as Breyona Reddick of Cleveland, is accused of killing the baby shortly after its birth. The baby boy was found in a trash can in a women’s bathroom in Whitcomb Hall around 11 a.m. Oct. 18, according to an initial report from the Hiram Police Department.
Reddick is being held in the Portage County jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash or surety bond. After an examination by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, the baby’s death was ruled a homicide. The coroner’s report says the baby died of asphyxiation due to exposure and postpartum inattention.
Reddick was identified as the baby’s mother through DNA evidence.
She was charged with aggravated murder, an unclassified felony, three counts of murder, each an unclassified felony, felonious assault, a second-degree felony, endangering children, a second-degree felony, tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony and abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony.
Jenelle Bayus, a spokeswoman for Hiram College, said Reddick was a student at the college earlier in the school year but is not currently a student.
Reddick’s attorney, Nathan Ray, said Reddick graduated from John Adams High School, a public school on the east side of Cleveland in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She was on the track team and a cheerleader, he said, and due to her GPA got a full scholarship to Hiram College last year.
“These are serious offenses and we realize the seriousness of them, Judge,” Ray said during the hearing.
He said her family would support her if she was able to leave jail, but Judge Becky Doherty declined to allow Reddick out of jail on a personal recognizance bond.
The baby was buried in November in a private service, according to a spokesman for Hiram College.
According to the coroner’s report, the baby was alive for no more than an hour and was likely born on Oct. 18, 2019. The baby was found in a clear plastic trash bag in a Hiram College residence hall with numerous bloody white paper towels in the bag as well as a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, a pair of grey women’s panties, a feminine hygiene product wrapper and a roll of paper towels.
The umbilical cord was still attached.
Portage County assistant prosecutor Steve Michniak said during the hearing Friday that Reddick likely delivered the baby herself or with the help of a friend. No one else has been charged in connection to this incident.
Hiram Police Chief Brian Gregory, who wrote the report, said the trash bag was tied shut and laying on the floor of a second-floor restroom before housekeeping staff put it on a utility cart and took it to the rear of the building, where a maintenance worker discovered the baby.
In the report, Gregory wrote that the trash bag contained what appeared to be a deceased newborn, which was verified by a Hiram Fire Department squad member on duty.
Gregory then contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Portage County Coroner’s Office, which arranged for the infant’s body to be sent to Cuyahoga County. Portage contracts with Cuyahoga County and Summit County for coroner’s duties as their offices are larger and have more resources.
Reddick will appear in court next on April 15. Her jury trial is scheduled for June 9 at 9 a.m.