Fact Check

Cooked Baby Petition

Petition seeks to ensure justice is done in case of mother who killed her baby in a microwave.

Published Aug 12, 2007

Claim:   Petition seeks to ensure justice is done in the case of a mother who killed her baby in a microwave.

Status:   Multiple:

  • A woman is on trial for killing her baby by placing it into a microwave oven:   Was true (trial has concluded).
  • Signing an e-petition will ensure that justice is done in this case:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2007]

Just recently a women placed her 3 week old baby in a microwave and baked it, and yes, of course it died. Police say that the mother did it to get back at the baby's father. This baby died in a microwave because of its heartless mother, she appears in court today, if you think she should be severly punished for killing her child,,please put your name below and repost this as "Baby Died In The Microwave" if you dont repost this no ur not gonna have relationship problems, no ur not gonna die, but it will show everyone that you have absolutely NO HEART or SENSE!!!!!


Origins:   This appeal to force the administration of justice in the case of a mother who'd microwaved her baby to death began appearing in inboxes in July 2007. Sadly, the gist of the e-mail is accurate in that a woman is now on trial for killing her 3½ week old baby in this fashion,

China Arnold of Dayton, Ohio, has been charged with aggravated murder for the 30 August 2005 death of her daughter, Paris Talley. In examining the deceased infant, investigators found evidence of high-heat internal injuries. That evidence, plus the absence of external burn marks on the child and the discovery of the child's DNA in the microwave indicated to investigators how the baby had died.

The mother claims she has no knowledge of what befell her daughter, saying that she had been drunk that night (having gone out drinking with the baby's father earlier in the evening), gave the child a bottle, then fell asleep on the couch with the infant on her chest. The first attempt to prosecute China Arnold for her daughter's death ended in February 2008 with the judge's declaring a mistrial just as the case was on the verge of going to the jury.

While the death being reported on is accurate, a petition meant to ensure the person responsible is appropriately punished isn't a good idea. First, despite the missive's "WE NEED 300 SINGTURES" [sic] plea, there is no mechanism by which these signatures could be delivered, as the petition

includes no address where the signatures should be sent to be collated into one long signed document. In its present form, the petition would simply be forwarded one person to the next, gathering signatures as it traveled, but never ultimately going anywhere. Second, there's no mention, not even the vaguest idea given, of who the document's ultimate intended recipient might be. Lacking that information, even if the signatures were gathered at one central location and formed into a coherent petition, there'd be no one to deliver them to.

Yet the strongest argument against the petition has to do with its premise (i.e., that whoever killed the infant should be "severly punished") — it's already being dealt with. The woman charged with the baby's death is on trial for the crime, and prosecutors have announced they are indeed seeking the death penalty. Ergo, the notion that someone somewhere needs to be pushed by this petition into making sure justice is done just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Another "microwaved baby" case was reported in the news in May 2007 involving Joshua Mauldin of Warren, Arkansas, who microwaved his two-month-old daughter Ana (after first punching her, then placing her in a hotel safe, then a refrigerator). The child suffered burns to her face (for which she received skin grafts) and eventually had to have part of one ear amputated, but was otherwise relatively unharmed. She now lives with relatives. In March 2008, Joshua Mauldin was found guilty of felony injury to a child and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

There had been a previous murder of a child by this method: In December 2000, Elizabeth Renee Otte was sentenced to five years in prison for microwaving her one-month-old baby to death in September 1999.

While each of these horrific incidents bears resemblance to the well-traveled legend about a babysitter who while in a drugged state mistook the baby for a turkey and put the wrong item in the oven, lore and reality differ in one key regard: motive. In the legend, the babysitter's act was unintentional, the result being so out of touch with reality that she perceived the infant as something else. The real-life microwavings of babies have been the deliberate acts of parents (some of whom afterwards attempted to mount "I didn't know what I was doing" defenses to the criminal charges laid against them).

Barbara "deadly imaginings" Mikkelson

Update:   In a retrial concluded on 29 August 2008, China Arnold was found guilty of aggravated murder in the microwaving death of her child.

Last updated:   29 August 2008


  Sources Sources:

    Grieco, Lou.   "Mom Told Investigators She Was Too Drunk to Know How Baby Died."

    Dayton Daily News.   20 July 2007   (p. A4).

    Hannah, James.   "Detective Testifies: Mother Said She Was Drunk."

    Associated Press.   19 July 2007.

    Hannah, James.   "Mother Charged in Death of Baby Who Might Have Been in Microwave."

    Associated Press.   28 November 2006.

    Lozano, Juan.   "Dad Guilty of Putting Baby in Microwave."

    Associated Press.   25 March 2008.

    Lozano, Juan.   "Dad Gets 25 Years for Microwaving Baby."

    Associated Press.   26 March 2008.

    Mong, Cathy.   "Death Penalty Sought for Mom in Baby's Death."

    Dayton Daily News.   8 December 2006   (p. A1).

    Rice, Harvey.   "Burned Baby Also Hit, Put in Fridge."

    The Houston Chronicle.   23 May 2007   (pl B3).

    Associated Press.   "Microwaved Baby Trial Begins in Ohio."

    28 January 2008.

    Associated Press.   "Baby Girl's Microwave Death Case Ends in Mistrial."

    The Kansas City Star.   11 February 2008.

    Associated Press.   "Woman Found Guilty of Microwaving Baby."

    29 August 2008.

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