Woman charged in baby's death 'has a lot of ... issues'
On her Facebook page, Angela Marie Alexie is a "stay at home mom," smiling in photos with her cherub-cheeked sons.
Police and prosecutors call her a murderer, responsible for the death of a newborn boy whose tiny body was found Jan. 14 among discarded items at a recycling depot in Roseville, umbilical cord still attached. The 24-year-old already had lost custody of three other children, they say.
Alexie was arraigned in Eastpointe on Wednesday on murder and abuse charges. Bail was set at $1 million and she is held in the Macomb County Jail. Officials are awaiting DNA confirmation that she is the mother of the newborn, now unofficially named Henry Alexander Macomb after Gen. Alexander Macomb.
She hid her face behind her long brown hair and turned her back on reporters during her appearance in 38th District Court in Eastpointe.
When asked by Judge Carl Gerds where she lived and if she was employed, Alexie said she was "homeless."
"I never had a job," said Alexie, who was last known to stay at a house on Gascony in Eastpointe. That's where Roseville police say she gave birth to the boy in the garage. According to police, Alexie claimed someone else put her dead baby in a garbage bin, which as placed in front of the house.
A friend described Alexie as very troubled, but not a monster. Tarah Bartram, 24, of Roseville said she has known Alexie since they were 10th-graders at East Detroit High School in Eastpointe. Alexie, she said, dropped out.
"She is not a bad person. She just has a lot of addictions and issues with her family," said Bartram. "What she (is accused of), it is a really bad thing."
Alexie's friends knew she was pregnant, Bartram said, but she lost contact with them and disappeared.
For the last few months, Alexie stayed at the home of an acquaintance — possibly a boyfriend, said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin.
"She lives wherever her head hits the pillow," Berlin said. "We have no idea who the father of the child is, and we don't think she knows either."
On her Facebook page are pictures of two young boys she acknowledges in messages are her sons. At least one photo, from 2013, appeared to show the children in the arms of a man who wrote on the site that he was "holding my boys."
Bob Wheaton, communications manager at the Michigan Department of Human Services, said he couldn't discuss a specific case. However, "DHS is notified at birth if the parents have previously had parental rights terminated or committed an egregious act against a child previously, such as killing or severely injuring a child.
"At that point, DHS can file a petition asking a court to remove the newborn from the parents."
Michigan has a safe-haven law that allows parents to legally relinquish custody of their newborn without fear of prosecution. The first such law was passed in Texas in 1999, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance in Virginia.
It isn't clear what might have happened in the current case, but her Facebook page reveals more about her.
Besides pictures with the young children, Alexie also shared numerous selfies — in a bathing suit, T-shirt, tanktop, a Halloween costume.
The "Moments From the Year" section of her page mentions she'd been in a "complicated relationship" and had gotten engaged.
In October 2013, Alexie shared an "e-card" depicting a man bent in prayer near a message: "I don't know about you but I have thought about running away more often now as an adult then when I was a kid."
Responding to a friend who replied to that post, she wrote: "I just wanna run away and IDC where."
Bartram said Alexie "was fine for a while because she was on medication and then all of a sudden, she lost it."
"If she would have called us, we would have come and gotten her and she would have gotten the help she needed," Bartram said. "She should have asked for help. We are trying to figure out what we can do, but we are all really mad because we all have kids. I have two."
Berlin said police are waiting for the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office to issue the final report on the cause of death.
According to police, the infant's body — it is believed he was a full-term baby — showed no obvious signs of trauma. His umbilical cord was attached, meaning the baby may have been discarded shortly after birth. He is believed to have been born about Dec. 22 and died Dec. 24.
Berlin said Alexie claims she wrapped him and took him to her parent's home, where she put the baby in a backyard storage shed. Someone, she contends, placed him into a recycling bin — the kind people take to the curb on garbage day.
Police looked for the child's mother as far away as the Thumb, based on other items found near the body at the recycling depot. Tips apparently led to Alexie's arrest; people who were aware she was pregnant were suspicious about her explanation for the absence of the baby, Berlin said.
The newborn will be buried in Resurrection Cemetery, 18201 Clinton River, in Clinton Township.
"It just sickens me to such an extent," said Berlin. "I am glad that we found her and got her off the streets so it couldn't happen again. We have closure here. But it has become very personal for a lot of the guys. This one is going to be a hard one to put behind us. The next thing is to bury this poor child."
Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed to this report.