CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A more than year-long investigation has resulted in a 39-year-old Charlottetown woman facing numerous charges relating to the deaths of two babies.
Charlottetown police have arrested and charged the woman with two counts of infanticide related to incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2016.
The woman is also facing two counts of failing to seek assistance in childbirth, and two counts of disposing of the dead body of a child with intent to conceal the fact it had been delivered.
Deputy police chief Brad MacConnell said the investigation began after the department was contacted by a concerned individual in March 2017.
“(They contacted us) with what they thought were suspicious circumstances, the fact that there were pregnancies and no babies,” said MacConnell.
The department’s major crime unit then began the investigation, which is still ongoing and does not involve P.E.I.’s RCMP.
While MacConnell said he could not provide many details, police were unable to find the bodies.
He said investigators are still in the process of determining if the bodies can be recovered.
“It doesn’t seem possible at this point… but we’re not closing the door until we have some more information,” he said.
The woman, who has been released from custody on conditions, is scheduled to appear in provincial court to answer the charges on Thursday.
While infanticide is not common in P.E.I., MacConnell noted it has occurred before.
“It’s certainly unfortunate… these were babies,” said MacConnell, noting the differences between infanticide and homicide in Canada’s criminal code. “(The court) recognizes there are issues of postpartum depression, chemical imbalances that women are affected by during pregnancies.
“It’s all factored in when the laws are applied.”
MacConnell said the maximum sentence for infanticide in Canada is five years, although most who are found guilty receive less time.
Emily Gillis, executive director of the Island Pregnancy Centre, did not comment on the charges but told The Guardian there are resources available to pregnant women who find themselves in need of support.
The centre assists women and families facing unplanned pregnancies as well as those who are in need of support during their pregnancy or help with parenting.
“Pregnant women on P.E.I. who find themselves in need of support, resources or education are welcome to visit us,” said Gillis. “All of our services are free and confidential.”