Nicole L. Saksek
was drunk and on her way to score some heroin in 2007 when she made a startling confession that led police to dig up a Hummelstown backyard
Wednesday, police allege in court documents.
Saksek, 35, told a friend she gave birth on a toilet in 2001 or 2002,
according to a police affidavit in support of their search warrant. She said she suffocated the baby, then wrapped it in a plastic garbage bag and buried it in the yard
, the affidavit states.
On Wednesday, police searched the yard of the apartment building in which Saksek lived in the 100 block of North Railroad Street, looking for any trace of a baby. Whether she’s believed to have had a boy or girl was not indicated in the affidavit.
No charges have been filed. Attempts to reach Saksek and the friend were unsuccessful Thursday. The affidavit does not indicate whether police spoke with Saksek, and Dauphin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack would not say if authorities had spoken with her.
However, the police affidavit paints a chilling picture of Saksek’s conversation with her friend, which was the basis for a warrant police obtained to conduct the search.
Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said that no remains were found that he could examine. But McCormack said police found potential evidence
“We did not expect to find skeletal remains,” McCormack said. “We did find items that confirmed information we have been given.”
Police said they became aware of the allegations after receiving a report in April from a state parole agent who said one of his parolees, Paul Troiani, reported his girlfriend had told him of Saksek’s confession.
The girlfriend, Kathryn Forney, 47, told police that Saksek gave her drunken confession as they drove to Harrisburg in 2007 to get heroin, the affidavit states.
Saksek broke into tears and told Forney about the baby when Forney asked why she was doing so many drugs, the affidavit states. Forney said Saksek told her she was living with her mother at the time, but was able to keep her pregnancy secret, according to the affidavit.
At this point, the crime being investigated is concealing the death of a child, a first degree misdemeanor, according to the affidavit.
McCormack would not rule out the possibility of other charges, including homicide. That would be more difficult to prove, he said, because there are no remains on which to perform an autopsy.
During their search, police used a cadaver dog, which alerted them to an area near a storage shed where they suspected the child had been buried. Ground penetrating radar also showed soil in that area had been disturbed, a possible indication something had been buried there.
Rebecca J. Taylor, assistant coordinator of the University of Tennessee’s famed Forensic Anthropology Center said it is doubtful police have much more than dirt to test.
After almost 10 years, it is unlikely any human bones or tissue would be found, especially in the soil conditions typically found in Pennsylvania, Taylor said.
“Newborns basically just have the foundation of a skeleton,” Taylor said. “Their long bones are just cartilage.”
McCormack indicated police found several items they plan to send to a crime lab for testing. McCormack would not confirm if police found evidence of the plastic bag the baby allegedly was buried in. But he did say if they found any plastic they would have it examined.
If a plastic bag was used to bury the baby, it is likely some pieces might be found, Taylor said. But after this many years, no traces of DNA would remain. Adipocere, a substance often referred to as ‘grave wax,” might also be found, but there is no way to test the soaplike byproduct of decomposed fat for DNA.
That would leave police with little testable evidence other than dirt. But that ought to be enough to tell them if someone was indeed buried there.
“Scientists can tell if a decomposition event has happened in the soil that is consistent with humans,” said Taylor. “But the only thing they could tell at this point is the presence of decomposing human remain.”