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Tiona Rodriguez, 18, caught with a dead newborn boy in a shopping bag as she was shoplifting at Victoria Secret in 2013 was charged with his murder
A teen mother caught with a dead newborn boy in a shopping bag as she was shoplifting at Victoria Secret in 2013 was charged with his murder on Thursday.
Tiona Rodriguez, 18, of Brooklyn, allegedly murdered the infant and shoved it in a bag with the plan to bury it in a hole then eat at I-Hop.
She 'carried out the murder of her newborn infant and then callously shoved him in a bag with the plan of — in her words to "take this s--- and dig a hole, put it somewhere, lol, then we go eat IHOP,"' prosecutor Rachel Ferrari said at her arraignment on a second-degree murder charge.
Police believe Rodriguez gave birth in her friend's home shortly before the shoplifting arrest.
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Homicide: Tiona Rodriguez, pictured in October of 2013, was charged with her baby boy's murder on Thursday. She allegedly murdered the infant with the plan to bury it in a hole then eat at I-Hop
Found: Investigators remove evidence bags containing the male fetus from the scene back in October 2013
Ferrari said the teen 'became pregnant in early 2013 and told no one. She knew she would be in big trouble if her family found out. So, she made a plan to kill this baby,' and 'began plotting weeks before he was born,' reports The New York Daily News.
'She took steps to get ready, and on October 16, 2013, she woke up and knew that this was the day. She contacted a friend and went to her home in Queens, away from the prying eyes of her friends, her family, her community in Brooklyn,' Ferrari said.
'She took a bag with her, and a change of clothes. And she went into her friend's bathroom, turned on the tub, and gave birth to her baby. Ripping the cord with her bare hands.'
Ferrari said that the baby was 8-pounds and full term at the time of its death and that it was murdered by Rodriguez.
'He wasn't stillborn, he didn't die of natural causes. He was murdered in that bathroom,' the prosecutor said.
Shoplifted: Rodriguez, pictured in October 2013, was caught with the dead baby while she was busted for shoplifting at a Victoria's Secret with the dead infant in her bag
'The defendant cleaned up after herself, leaving no sign of what transpired in that bathroom, taking her child out in a bag.'
Ferrari said that the teen was on her way to ditch the fetus when she decided to make a stop at the lingerie store.
'The defendant took a break from that plan in order to stop in to Victoria's Secret here in Manhattan and steal, shoving clothes into the same bag that carried her dead son,' Ferrari said.
She says Rodriguez was not a panicked teenager, rather she 'knew what she was doing' and had been pregnant twice before.
'The defendant was already well-versed in both hiding pregnancies and in childbirth,' Ferrari said.
'When the defendant was 14, she successfully hid her first pregnancy, and it was only when she was in the hospital in labor that her own family became aware that she was even pregnant,' Ferrari said.
The child she had when she was 14 is now four-years-old.
Premeditated: The prosecutor said the teen 'became pregnant in early 2013 and told no one. She knew she would be in big trouble if her family found out. So, she made a plan to kill this baby'
Ferrari says she gave birth to a second baby in 2012 in her bathtub who also died or it may have been murdered.
'In 2012, the defendant gave birth a second time. We have evidence that she gave birth to a second baby in her bathtub in her own home. She may have killed the baby, the baby may have been stillborn — but we know that she texted her boyfriend throughout the birth, ultimately telling him — it's dead,' the prosecutor said.
She accused Rodriguez of getting rid of that baby by smashing it up or burning it.
'Then the two of them discussed via text getting rid of it. Smashing it up, so it didn't look like a body. Burning it. Meeting up to bury it. That was her second pregnancy.'
Teen mom: Tiona, who has a four-year-old son, gave birth to her first child when she was just 14-years-old
Ferrari said that when Rodriguez became pregnant for the third time she didn't tell anyone.
'She told no one. But this time, she was not going to go to the hospital,' Ferrari said.
'She had derailed her life once, she was not going to do it again,' she said.
'It is this callousness that drove Tiona Rodriguez.'
Health problems: Rodriguez had complained of period pains the day before she was stopped in Victoria's Secret. She also talked about her excitement at a new job at Chipoltle
Rodriguez's lawyer Earl Ward says that neither of the deaths were murders and he claims that both the second and third pregnancies were miscarriages.
'Judge, this is not a case of murder. As I said before, Ms. Rodriguez has always maintained her innocence,' he said.
Ward said that his client was merely consumed about what to do with the fetus who 'thought it was serious menstrual camps' and not pregnancy prior to the birth.
'They have painted a picture of a young, callous girl ... that's not who Tiona Rodriguez is. She is a confused young girl who had no idea what to do with the fetus that was stillborn,' Ward said.
Shocking discovery: A police officer outside the Victoria's Secret branch where a fetus was found
If convicted, Rodriguez can spend 15 years behind bars.
The grisly discovery was made when the two girls were stopped by a security guard as they left the store in Herald Square on suspicion of shoplifting.
But as well as allegedly finding stolen goods inside the bags, the guard noticed there was a strong door inside and found a tiny body under the loot.
Rodriguez told detectives she had delivered a day earlier and didn't know what to do, authorities said.
'Shoplifting with a baby in her bag the entire time certainly suggests a little bit of difficulty following society's rules,' Hettleman said at the hearing, adding that the matter was still under investigation.
On her Facebook page prior to her shoplifting arrest in 2013, Rodriguez had complained about period cramps, and added that she was excited about an upcoming job interview at Chipotle.
Last year, police ruled the baby's death a homicide by asphyxiation.
Maintaining innocence: Rodriguez's (left) lawyer Earl Ward says that neither of the deaths were murders and he claims that both the second and third pregnancies were miscarriages