Guilty verdict in mummified baby case
By Nate Hauser - Krcrtv.com
June 06, 2014
REDDING, Calif. - A Shasta County jury found
Jessica Bradford guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death
of her baby girl.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty after
deliberating for a day and a half. The jury returned yesterday and
told the judge they were deadlocked on the issue. The judge
ordered the jury to continue deliberations leading to the
unanimous verdict today.
Jessica Bradford was accused of giving birth to
a baby girl then hiding the body until it was found 48 days later,
mummified, in a laundry basket.
The story made national headlines when it was
brought to light in November 2011.
Bradford, who was 23-years-old at the time was
an employee at the Julian Youth Academy in Whitmore. Julian Youth
Academy was a private, Christian school for troubled teens.
Sentencing will be conducted July 25.
Emotional closing arguments in mummified baby trial
By Shay Arthur - Krcrtv.com
June 4, 2014
REDDING, Calif. - Attorneys gave their final
pitches to jurors Wednesday in the Jessica Bradford murder trial.
The case is now in the hands of the jury as
they deliberate the future of Bradford.
The trial wrapped up two weeks earlier than
planned and was briefly halted during the middle of closing
arguments when a juror was questioned about calling Shasta County
Senior Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kafael a "bitch" during the
questioning of a witness in open court.
The comment was reported by another juror and
confirmed by others that they had heard it.
The juror denied making the comment but the
Judge ultimately ruled the juror was lying and dismissed him.
He was replaced with another juror.
Wednesday morning Kafael, wasted no time in her
closing arguments saying, "This baby never, ever had a chance to
Kafael said baby Lily, the infant Bradford is
accused of killing was an "it" to her.
"It was a not child to her," continued Kafael.
According to the Senior DA, Bradford knew what
labor was and was well aware she was pregnant.
Kafael heatedly told the jury, "She took better
care of her hamster."
Kafael said at least the hamster had a name,
food and water and that the hamster lived next to Bradford's bed,
while the mummified baby was in a pile of clothes on the floor.
Kafael called Bradford selfish.
"This is all about her."
Kafael said during the time of the baby's short
life Bradford went to Winco, where food and milk were readily
available for the baby.
But she didn't buy anything for the child,
instead she drank alcohol and ate cookies.
Kafael explained it is a parent's legal duty to
help, care for and rescue their child.
She said failing to do so equates to the
killing of a child.
Kafael also explained the baby was only named
Lily because Bradford was forced to name her after the autopsy and
that Bradford showed no remorse.
Kafael also told the jury at one point Bradford
admitted to investigators she starved the baby.
The DA said the fact that Bradford told
investigators she was weighing her options indicates premeditated
Kafael said there is no mental defense Bradford
didn't know what to do. She was an adult.
In his closing argument, defense attorney,
Johnathan Jordan argued Bradford should not be found guilty of
first degree murder. Jordan said if Bradford really wanted to kill
the baby, all she would have to do is walk 30 feet and dump her in
the woods and leave.
"I can tell you there are enough animals there
to take care of it," said Jordan.
But he said she didn't do that because that's
what a murderer does and she's not a murderer.
At the time of the baby's death Bradford was
working at the Julian Youth Academy in Whitmore, which is located
in an isolated area.
Jordan argued for murder charges to apply you
have to believe she wanted to kill her baby but said there's still
no direct evidence indicating exactly how the baby died.
Jordan said his client tried to breastfeed and
give the baby water but she didn't want to hurt it. The attorney
also said the case of Bradford giving birth before and the baby
dying is a completely different situation and should not be
compared to the case at hand.
Jordan questioned the murder charge, saying,
"When you murder a baby do you keep it in your bedroom?"
Jordan told the jury, "I don't believe any
crime was committed except [Jessica] being who she is. She did the
best she could."
Besides first degree murder, Bradford could
also be convicted of second degree murder or involuntary
Mother of mummified baby: 'It was like a bad dream'
By Kate Hackett - Krcrtv.com
May 22, 2014
REDDING, Calif. - An emotional day in court
Thursday for the woman accused of murder due to letting her baby
starve to death.
Jessica Bradford was arrested at the Julian
Youth Academy in Whitmore in November 2011.
She told investigators she had the baby in
September that year, under a deck at the school without anyone
Bradford later admitted she hid the baby for
four days before the baby died.
48 days after Bradford gave birth, the baby was
found mummified and hidden in her laundry basket.
Bradford was 23-years-old when she was
Tearful testimony during the murder trial
Thursday as Bradford’s good friend and boss, Tiffany Morgan, took
Morgan is an expecting mother. Her emotions
overwhelmed her in the courtroom, bringing tears as she testified.
Morgan told the jury two staff members came to
her in November 2011, saying they had found a dead baby inside
Bradford's room, wrapped in a blanket and hidden inside a laundry
When the prosecutor mentioned how emotional
Morgan seemed, she replied "I haven't seen or talked to her" and
“I miss her.”
That's when Bradford also began openly weeping.
As Morgan left the courtroom, she mouthed "I
love you" to Bradford.
The prosecution then played a second
interrogation tape Thursday.
On it, Bradford admitted that she tried breast
feeding the child after giving birth, but she wasn't producing
milk. So, she tried giving the baby water by dipping her finger in
the liquid and putting it in the infant's mouth.
A professor of pediatrics from UC Davis Medical
Center then testified that a baby could only be expected to live
three or four days without nourishment.
On both interrogation tapes, Bradford told
investigators her baby lived four days.
When grilled by Detective Brian Jackson as to
how many times Bradford would check on the deceased baby girl,
left wrapped in a blanket and hidden in a laundry basket, Bradford
said she didn't go to look at the body kept in her room. She
replied, "I couldn't look at her, I was so ashamed."
When asked why she didn't name the baby that
lived for only four days, Bradford answered "I feel like if I
named her then it was real" and "I couldn't name her after all the
stuff I did to her."
Bradford called the whole experience of being
pregnant, giving birth and allegedly hiding the death of her
days-old baby "a bad dream."
A final question posed by the detective to the
mother standing trial for her baby's murder - why did Bradford
keep the baby’s corpse hidden for nearly two months?
Bradford's answered "because I didn't want to
let go of her.”
Prosecutors also played a surveillance video of
Bradford along with her boyfriend, Jovan Castillo – the uninformed
new father, inside a Redding grocery store.
The video was taken just 14 hours after
Bradford had secretly given birth under the deck on the school’s
The tape shows the pair buying something.
Bradford admitted to investigators on the interrogation tape that
what the pair had purchased was alcohol.
The murder trial will continue Tuesday morning
at the Shasta County courthouse.
Mother of mummified baby: ‘I didn't name her’
Interrogation tape played, boyfriend testifies
By Kate Hackett - Krcrtv.com
May 21, 2014
REDDING, Calif. - Prosecutors in the Jessica
Bradford mummified-baby murder trial played an interview tape to
jurors Wednesday during the second day of trial.
Bradford is accused of not caring for her baby,
which lead to her starving to death.
The defendant was arrested in November of 2011
at the Julian Youth Academy in Whitmore, after a mummified baby
was found hidden in a blanket and kept in a laundry basket.
Bradford told investigators she had the baby in
September that year, under a deck at the school, and didn’t tell
Bradford later admitted she hid the baby
throughout the school campus and in her car for four days before
the baby died.
The baby was uncovered 48 days after Bradford
Those in the courtroom Wednesday learned new
details heard on her interrogation tape.
Bradford spoke about being adopted herself.
Adoption was something Bradford had looked into
when she first learned she was pregnant. Bradford said on the
video after she first felt the baby kick, she began Googling
“adoption and safe surrender sites.”
Bradford went on to say after she gave birth
she even started making the drive to Chico, to give the baby over
to a surrender site, but she kept looking down at the baby
thinking, “I can't give her away."
Three separate times during the interrogation,
a Shasta County detective asked what the baby’s name was. Bradford
replied "I didn't name her" and “I don’t know.”
The decision to name the baby Lilly happened
after the interrogation interview, which was nearly two months
since the birth and death of the child.
The baby was finally given a name because the
detective told Bradford she'd need to provide a name to the
When the detectives questioned Bradford as to
why she didn't tell anyone about being pregnant or seek help,
Bradford said, “I didn't know what to do. I was scared."
Bradford also said she kept the pregnancy a
secret because she “didn't want to disappoint anyone, my family
and boss and stuff."
She went on to say her religion played a part
in her not wanting anyone to know she was pregnant, "I grew up in
a Christian home, don't have sex until you're married."
Bradford then walked the detectives through how
she managed to give birth on campus, underneath a deck, and keep
She stated that after having contractions on
September 19, 2011 she went where no one would see or hear her
and, "stood up and she dropped out."
Bradford admitted to detectives she then spent
the night in her car with her baby and "held her because I was so
The baby’s father, Bradford’s boyfriend, Jovan
Castillo also took the stand Wednesday. He testified he thought
his girlfriend was on birth control, and that she had even,
"showed me a packet of pills."
When asked if he ever knew Bradford was
pregnant, Castillo said he, “had noticed she gained weight” but
the thought of her actually being pregnant - for the second time -
“never crossed my mind."
The baby’s father also told the jury that if he
had known about his girlfriend being pregnant and giving birth, he
would have kept and cared for the baby girl.
The murder trial is set to continue Thursday at
the Shasta County Courthouse.
Mother arraigned in death of
newborn; baby starved to death in Whitmore, report says
By Jim Schultz - Redding.com
November 9, 2011
As her parents sat discreetly in the back row
of the courtroom, a 23-year-old woman accused of murdering her
4-day-old daughter was arraigned Wednesday in Shasta County
It did not appear that Jessica Nicole Bradford
made eye contact with her parents, who quickly left the courtroom
following her brief appearance before Superior Court Judge James
"They are devastated," said Shasta County
sheriff's Detective Eric Magrini, who flew down to the San Diego
area earlier this week to talk to the parents and to also
interview other family members and childhood friends of Bradford.
"It's been very hard on them."
None of those interviewed, he said, had been
aware that Bradford had been pregnant, including her parents.
"The joy of being grandparents was taken from
them," Magrini said.
Bradford, who did not enter a plea and is
scheduled to return to court on Nov. 16 for further arraignment,
is charged with murder, child abuse and a related enhancement.
She faces life in prison if convicted, said
Senior Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kafel, who is prosecuting
Kafel said the circumstances surrounding
Bradford's case are hard to bear.
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "A victim
doesn't get any more innocent."
Deputies arrested Bradford on Monday for
allegedly allowing her 4-day-old daughter to starve to death.
"It's unbelievable," said sheriff's Sgt. Steve
Grashoff, saying the case is among the most gruesome and troubling
he's encountered during his 21-year law enforcement career.
"It's one of them," he said.
As investigators continue to interview
witnesses and develop more information, Detective Brian Jackson
said the baby's mummified body was found Sunday afternoon at the
Julian Youth Academy in the 12000 block of Tintagel Lane in
Whitmore after a school employee alerted authorities.
Bradford is a former student at the private
Christian boarding school for troubled teens and had been a staff
worker there for about three or four years.
According to a sheriff's two-page summary of
events filed Wednesday in Superior Court, a woman identified as
Tiffany Morgan called an emergency dispatcher around 5:45 p.m. on
She told authorities a dead baby had apparently
been seen in a staff member's room inside a laundry basket around
11:30 p.m. Friday while other staff members were looking for a
Although it's still not clear why deputies were
not alerted earlier, Bradford told detectives she gave birth to
the child on Sept. 19, but believed the baby was stillborn.
Bradford said she kept the baby hidden in a
laundry basket in her room for about a month and a half after she
died, but moved the body into a utility closet Friday after
realizing the blankets covering her had been disturbed that day.
She said she did not tell anyone that she was
pregnant, including her boyfriend of about three years, who has
not been identified.
Kafel said Bradford apparently was able to hide
her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothes.
During subsequent interviews with
investigators, however, Bradford changed her story, admitting the
baby was not stillborn and had lived for about four days, the
sheriff's report said.
Although she had thoughts of giving the baby up
for adoption, she chose not to for various reasons, the sheriff's
Bradford told deputies she kept the baby in a
vacant residence on campus and would occasionally check on it.
She continued to go to work, see her boyfriend
and drove to Redding at least twice for personal business, the
She told sheriff's investigators she didn't
feed the baby, but tried to give the girl water when she cried,
the sheriff's report said.
"Bradford admitted she neglected to care for
the baby by not feeding it or being able to provide breast milk
for feeding," the sheriff's report said.
Bradford also told detectives she never told
anyone about the baby or her pregnancy because she feared she
would lose her job and her lifestyle.
"She did not want to tell her boyfriend about
the baby because she did not want to affect his life and her
life," the sheriff's report said.
Bradford is being held in Shasta County jail in
lieu of $1 million bail.
'Role model' mother 'starved her newborn infant to death and hid
mummified remains at a school'
Thompson - DailyMail.com
November 11, 2011
The baby lived for four days before dying from lack of food and
Police said Bradford kept the pregnancy
secret from her family and boyfriend of the last three years in
Bradford told police she
did not give the baby girl a name as she did not want to feel
attached to it.
She claimed she thought her
daughter was stillborn but admitted to detectives she was alive
when she left her alone in an empty room at the Julian Youth
After the baby died she hid its corpse
in a laundry basket in her room, until a co-worker discovered the
body and called police.
The sheriff’s office
said the baby was a fully-developed, full-term infant and in a
mummified state of decomposition.
shocking at least just to see the baby in the condition and given
the circumstances that have been reported to us. it was a shocking
case and one that we have not seen in some time," said Shasta
County Sheriff's Department Det. Brian Jackson.
Bradford worked for a programme at the private Christian school
called F.A.C.E.S.S, which stands for Fighting Against Child
Exploitation and Sexual Slavery.
She was seen as
a role model to young women in the programme and had helped many
girls at the school.
Friends said they had no
idea she was pregnant and said she always wore baggy clothes.
Even her boyfriend of three years had no idea she was carrying a
An arrest warrant for murder revealed that
Bradford said she gave birth to the baby on September 19th under a
deck near her dorm room so that no one would hear.
An autopsy was performed on the baby's body at the Shasta County
Coroner's office, but because the case is a homicide the Coroner's
office is not releasing any information.
Bradford is being held on a charge of murder on $1m bond.