Six Month Jail Sentence Handed Down In Baby Theresa Case

(Theresa) A Milwaukee woman charged in the death of “Baby Theresa” was sentenced Friday to six months in jail. Karin Luttinen entered a guilty plea to a felony count of Concealing the Death of a Child in April.

The 46-year-old told investigators she was home alone at her residence in Shorewood when she started giving birth in April of 2009. She filled a bathtub with water and after delivering the child, passed out. The water was off and had drained by the time Luttinen came to roughly 15 minutes later. The baby was face down in the water near the drain. She said there was no intention of turning on the water so the baby could not breathe, only so she could get comfortable. Luttinen never saw the child cry or move. She then wrapped the baby in a towel then placed her in a garbage bag and drove (quote) “aimlessly” until reaching a secluded area.

The child was found near the Town of Theresa. Luttinen said that no one else knew of the birth. An autopsy concluded the infant died prior to, or during birth.

In 2020, the cold case was revived after Dodge County Sheriff’s Detective Vicki Brugger and Medical Examiner P.J. Schoebel were able to locate a match using genealogy DNA testing.  The investigators were able to obtain DNA from Karin Luttinen that showed Luttinen was in fact Baby Theresa’s mother. 

In reviewing the facts and the current Wisconsin law, the District Attorney’s Office determined that the only charge available was Concealing the Death of a Child or the Issue of a Woman, and the penalty available for this offence was a maximum of one- and one-half years of confinement with two years of extended supervision.  Because the child was not born alive, more serious charges of Hiding a Corpse were not appropriate. 

At sentencing, District Attorney Klomberg, while arguing for the incarceration of the defendant, said, “hiding a pregnancy and giving birth at home to a stillborn child are not criminal acts in Wisconsin, but disposing the child’s remains in the woods in a trash bag clearly is a felony.  Moreover, going home, acting like nothing happened, and hiding it all from the child’s father for over a decade while the couple built a life together is unconscionable.”

Klomberg pointed out the fact that many people were terribly impacted by the defendant’s acts, noting that “the officers and medical examiner who had to respond to the scene and conduct the investigation live with the emotions and pain of what the defendant did to this day.  The child’s father has had his life turned upside down.  Our community suffered through the most painful experience in our collective memories.  All of that pain was caused by the fact that the defendant would not give Baby Theresa the dignity that she deserved.”

Luttinen will spend three years on probation.  The court imposed and stayed one and one half years of prison and two years of extended supervision only to be served if she does not successfully complete probation.  She will serve the six months in jail as a condition of probation with work release. Luttinen must pay a $5000 fine and complete 60 hours of community service.  Mental health treatment was also ordered as a part of the sentence.