‘Today we can provide that closure’: Dodge Co. authorities solve 2009 ‘Baby Theresa’ cold case

JUNEAU, Wis. — Thirteen years after finding a dead baby on the side of a Dodge County road, authorities say they’ve finally solved the case.

On April 29, 2009, Dodge County law enforcement found an abandoned unidentified newborn girl in a garbage bag near Lone Road in the Town of Theresa. Law enforcement at the time tried “tirelessly” to identify the newborn, adding that no family members ever came forward to identify the newborn. Law enforcement eventually dubbed the newborn “Baby Theresa” as they continued their investigation.

In the initial stages of the investigation, Dodge County authorities conducted several tests to identify what led to the death of Baby Theresa, who appeared healthy when her body was recovered. Authorities conducted numerous tests to figure out the newborn’s cause of death, ultimately concluding that there were no signs of trauma or drugs in her system.

Baby Theresa was ultimately buried, with no family present, on May 11, 2009.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt — joined by Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg and Dodge County Medical Examiner PJ Schoebel — held a press conference Friday afternoon to announce they’ve identified and charged the child’s mother.

“Until today, the community has been left wondering if her family would ever be identified,” Schmidt said. “Today we can provide that closure. This case has been resolved.”

A Sketch Of Baby Theresa

Courtesy of the Dodge County Medical Examiner’s Office

Identifying Baby Theresa’s Mother

In 2014, Dodge County officials filed charges against the child’s mother — who was still unidentified at the time — using her DNA profile to avoid passing the six-year statute of limitations for the charges. Citing advances in forensic science, the sheriff’s office said they were eventually able to identify the child’s mother in 2021.

The woman, 45-year-old Karin Luttinen, made her initial appearance in court Friday on a single charge of concealing the death of a child.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Luttinen, the 45-year-old, who was 33 at the time, did not know she was pregnant with the child until late in her pregnancy. During interviews with Luttinen after law enforcement identified her as the baby’s mother, Luttinen reportedly told investigators she gave birth alone and at home. When the child was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Luttinen said she went “blank” after the birth and never saw the baby cry or move. According to the complaint, Luttinen thought she blacked out for 15 minutes. The complaint goes on to say Luttinen never sought medical help before or after the baby was delivered. There are also no medical records available that show she was ever pregnant.

During Luttinen’s court appearance, a judge ordered she be held on a $2,500 cash bond, which she posted after the hearing. Dodge County authorities confirmed Friday afternoon she is no longer in police custody.

Luttinen does not yet have another court appearance scheduled.

If convicted, Luttinen could serve up to three years and six months in prison and/or pay a $10,000 fine.