Milwaukee Woman Charged In Connection To “Baby Theresa” Case

(Theresa) A Milwaukee woman was charged Friday in the 2009 death of a newborn baby that was found in a garbage bag in the Town of Theresa. Karin Luttinen is facing a felony count of Concealing Death of a Child.

“Baby Theresa” was discovered on Lone Road near Highway 175 in April nearly 13 years ago. An autopsy revealed that the full-term infant had no trauma which could have caused her death — and no drugs were found in her system. Evidence recovered from the scene helped establish – what was believed to be – a DNA profile of the biological mother. Investigators ran that profile through a national database of convicted felons and sex offenders.

Authorities filed charges against the DNA profile in 2014 in order to prevent the six year statute of limitations, which allowed future prosecution. In 2021, thanks in part to advancements in forensic sciences, Luttinen was reportedly identified as the mother.

According to the criminal complaint, Luttinen was home alone when she started given birth. She allegedly filled a bathtub with water and after delivering the child, passed out. The water was off and had reportedly drained by the time Luttinen came to roughly 15 minutes later. The complaint says the baby was face down in the water near the drain.

Luttinen allegedly told investigators that there was no intention of turning on the water so the baby could not breathe, only so she could get comfortable. The complaint adds that Luttinen never saw the child cry or move. She reportedly wrapped the baby in a towel then placed her in a garbage bag and drove (quote) “aimlessly” until reaching a secluded area. The 45-year-old reportedly said that no one else knew of the birth.

A joint press conference with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, and the District Attorney’s Office was held Friday to announce the charges. Sheriff Dale Schmidt says the community is still mourning the loss of “Baby Theresa.” He says while they are thankful a resolution has taken place it has been a shocking discovery for everyone, especially the family of “Baby Theresa.”

Medical Examiner PJ Schoebel says the incident was a (quote) “fetal demise.” He says the medical examination revealed that there was no evidence that supported the child was murdered. Schoebel adds that the pathologist concluded the child may have died prior to, or during birth.

District Attorney Kurt Klomberg says Luttinen is facing a charge of Concealing the Death of a Child, specifically the Issue of a Woman. Klomberg notes that the ‘Issue of a Woman’ is a legal term that includes a child not born alive. The crime carries a maximum penalty of one-and-a-half years of initial confinement and two years of extended supervision. Klomberg says if there was sufficient evidence the child was born alive, a charge of Hiding a Corpse would have been included.

Luttinen had cash bond set at $2,500 during her initial appearance in court and waived her right to a preliminary hearing. The district court administrator will now assign a judge to preside over the case. An arraignment hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Click HERE to watch video of the press conference.