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Girl in Trouble

Aubrey Owen gave up one baby for adoption and left another dead in a Dumpster. This year, she celebrates Mother's Day in prison with the third.


Sitting in the bathtub, Aubrey Owen cradled her newborn daughter in her arms. She held the baby until the water in the tub turned from hot to cold. She pinched her baby's feet, then checked for a heartbeat with her thumb. The baby wasn't crying or gurgling. Nothing.

Owen reached for a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord. Blood drained from Owen's end, but not a drop came from her baby.

A couple of hours earlier, Owen had been curled up on a love seat in the living room of her parents' home, watching a Chiefs game with her mom and dad. It was family tradition. On Sundays when she could break away, Owen drove home from Kansas State University to the cul-de-sac in Olathe.

But on this second weekend in October 2003, the trip was different. During the two-hour drive from Manhattan, Owen, then 20, had rehearsed how she might reveal the secret that she'd hidden under baggy clothes for nearly eight months.

Later, questioned by police, she would claim that she was humiliated and didn't know whom she could trust. A man had slipped something into her drink at a fraternity party, she would say; she'd awakened the next morning naked, with no memory of the night. A few weeks later, she learned she was pregnant.

Owen was excited about having a little girl, despite the circumstances of its conception. Her name would be Izabella.

But she still hadn't told her parents, fearing they would push her to give up the baby for adoption or, worse, get an abortion.

Owen's water broke while she was sitting on the love seat during the second quarter of the Chiefs game.

Panicked, she rushed out of the house, telling her parents she was going for a drive to do some thinking. Her parents didn't consider this odd — Owen was talking about applying to study abroad in Spain the following semester and was putting a lot of pressure on herself to excel in her classes.

Owen drove to Olathe Lake and parked near the bathrooms. She hadn't felt Izabella move for a week and a half, after Owen had fallen on a mound of sand at Tuttle Creek State Park in Manhattan. She thought there was a chance that landing on her abdomen had injured or killed her unborn daughter.

The contractions slowed after Owen spent about half an hour sitting alone at Olathe Lake. She went back to her parents' house, passing Olathe Medical Center on the way, and told her mom that she was going upstairs to take a shower.

The contractions started again in quick spasms. Owen realized she had to make a choice: call out for help, or fill the bathtub and deliver the baby alone.

She turned on the faucet and undressed. When the water was high enough, Owen lay down. As Izabella's head came out, Owen pushed, but she couldn't free her baby's shoulders. After struggling for at least 10 minutes, Owen finally pulled out Izabella.

"She was not alive," Owen would later tell the Pitch. "There was absolutely no response."

Owen cut the umbilical cord.

Fearing she might bleed to death, she wrapped her end of the cord with a hair tie. She flushed the blood clots down the toilet and took a shower to clean herself and wash away the blood still in the tub.

Then she wrapped Izabella in a green towel and rocked her in her arms for more than an hour. Owen eventually placed her baby, its umbilical cord and its placenta inside a backpack and left the house. Driving around in search of a place she could bury Izabella, Owen saw the Dumpster behind a strip mall at 2121 East 151st Street.

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