By MELINDA WILLIAMS
CHRISTIANSBURG – A 23-year-old Christiansburg woman has been charged in connection with a dead fetus Christiansburg police allegedly found concealed in a closet at the end of September.
Authorities allege Melinda Sue Woolwine gave birth to a “nearly full-term fetus” about two weeks before it was found dead. However, Christiansburg Police Department spokeswoman Becky Wilburn said the extent of decomposition prevented a medical examiner from being able to conclusively say whether it was a live birth.
As a result, Woolwine was charged under a statute prohibiting concealment of a dead body in order to conceal the death or the manner of death.
“In coordination with the Christiansburg Police Department, I feel confident this is the appropriate charge to place against Ms. Woolwine at this time as we have no evidence that the fetus was born alive,” said Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt.
Wilburn said Christiansburg police conducted a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the incident, including “any potential discrepancies between evidence and statements allegedly made by Woolwine and other witnesses.”
Authorities became aware of the situation when hospital employees reported that a woman at the facility showed signs of having recently given birth, but was denying having been pregnant. The fetus was found wrapped in cloth in the back of a closet when a search warrant was executed on a house in the 100 block of East Street in Christiansburg.
Woolwine was released on an unsecured bond and ordered to remain in the Commonwealth pending trial.
The charge is a Class 6 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.