A mother and her teenage daughter were arrested and charged with carrying out an illegal abortion after Facebook disclosed their private conversation to the authorities.
A total of five criminal charges, including three felonies, have been filed against the 41-year-old mother, Jessica. She reportedly helped her daughter terminate her pregnancy, burning the fetus and burying it earlier this year.
Jessica has entered a not guilty plea to the charges and is now waiting for a trial.
Celeste, who was just 17 years old at the time of the alleged crime, is now being prosecuted as an adult in accordance with the law of the court. She has also pleaded not guilty to all three charges against her, including the felony charge.
According to a written statement, a detective from the local police department opened an investigation at the end of April after receiving information that Celeste had miscarried and that she and her mother had reportedly buried the body.
The detective was allowed access to her medical records after the tip and found out that she was over 23 weeks pregnant when she had an abortion. In the state she lived in, it is illegal to get an abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.
According to the court documents, some days later, the couple was questioned and informed the detective that Celeste had suddenly given birth to a stillborn baby in the shower in the early morning hours around midnight.
According to the investigation, after that, the young woman allegedly woke up her mother, placed the dead fetus in a bag, and hid it in the trunk of their vehicle.
Later, with the help of a 22-year-old man, the mother and daughter reportedly traveled a few miles north of their town to bury the fetus’ body.
According to the court records, the man informed the police that the mother and daughter tried to burn the unborn before burying it. Once the corpse was excavated, investigators discovered signs of what the detective referred to as “thermal wounds.”
A week after Jessica and Celeste were arrested, a detective served Facebook with a search warrant that gave law enforcement access to their profiles. Authorities said they discovered texts that pointed to Jessica as the one who purchased abortion pills for her daughter and provided her with instructions on how to use them.
“Celeste talks about how she can’t wait to get the “thing” out of her body and reaffirms with J. Burgess that they will burn the evidence afterwards,” the detective said.
On the other hand, Meta said that the warrants they got in June had nothing to do with an abortion. Instead, they were part of a police investigation into a stillborn baby.
In addition, the 22-year-old man was charged with helping the couple bury the fetus and pled no contest to a misdemeanor.
Some people think that Facebook shouldn’t have helped with the search warrant, and other experts say that this case shows how important it is to encrypt data and limit how much information the company keeps on its users.