Break in 1999 baby case on Fort Berthold Reservation 5-17-07

- A woman who works at a child program on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is accused of killing her own baby nearly eight years ago, when the child was found in a suitcase along a state highway. Dana Deegan, 34, of Garrison, was formally charged with murder in federal court Thursday, hours after her arrest at the child program in New Town.

Federal Magistrate Charles Miller ordered her held until a detainment hearing next Tuesday.

The baby, a boy believed to be younger than 2 weeks old at the time of death, was found in November 1999, in a brush-filled coulee along state Highway 22, about seven miles north of Mandaree.

A rancher who was repairing fences in the area spotted the suitcase and opened it. He found the body inside, in a one-piece sleeper and socks, wrapped in a blanket and towel and placed in a plastic bag.

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said Thursday that DNA evidence was used to connect Deegan to the crime nearly eight years later. An affidavit filed in court said Deegan told FBI agents that she gave birth to the baby, her fourth child, but was unable to care for another child. She told investigators she left the baby alone without food or water for two weeks.

Officials had released photographs of the soft-sided lavender bag and blanket in which the infant was found in 1999, hoping someone might recognize them and lead authorities to the baby's parents.