NEPTUNE – Two New Jersey teens will make their first court appearance in Monmouth County on Wednesday after being charged with the murder and disposal of their newborn son, according to officials.
Police say Jada McClain, 18, of Neptune, N.J. confessed to giving birth at home in her bathroom on March 29. After showering and placing the baby on her bed, the Neptune High School student told investigators she pushed on the infant's chest with the intent to suffocate him.
Later that day, she picked up Quaimere Mohammed, 19, of Asbury Park, who is alleged to have disposed of the infant's body in a dumpster at the Washington Village apartment complex.
Why would a young couple do such at thing?
Mental health experts say it may not be a conscious choice, but prior trauma, which can thrust the brain into survival mode, leading to acts of extreme self-preservation.
"In individuals with a history of trauma, their thinking brain actually shuts down because it becomes overwhelmed by regressing back to traumatic experiences, or the trauma they've endured really inhibits the capacity to make decisions," said Carolyn Flynn, a parent-infant mental health clinician at The Center for Great Expectations, a treatment center for predominantly adolescent mothers.
"They may be homeless," said Flynn. "Their parents may have rejected them when they learned about the pregnancy."
The center provides a therapeutic residential environment for 20 women and their children.
Police learned that McClain had been hiding her pregnancy from her parents. She allegedly told friends that she drank and used drugs in an effort to kill her unborn son, who she named Legend.
This comes just weeks after New Jersey launched a public awareness campaign about the state's safe haven law. Passed in 2000, it allows any infant under 30 days old to be surrendered anonymously at any police or fire station, ambulance squad or emergency room in the state.
McClain and Mohammed will appear before Judge James J. McGann on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
McClain is charged with first-degree murder and desecrating human remains.
Mohammed is charged with second-degree desecrating human remains.