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The original item was published from 9/8/2016 3:58:00 PM to 12/10/2016 5:20:05 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: September 8, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Peach Bottom Mother Charged in Infant's Death; 2nd Child to Die while Sleeping

Jessica M. Harper

A Peach Bottom woman caused her infant son’s death in July, when the boy suffocated as he slept, according to charges filed Thursday.

Pennsylvania State Police charged 28-year-old Jessica Harper with criminal homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and endangering a child, regarding the July 12 death of the 2-month-old boy.

The infant was found deceased that morning at Harper’s home in the 2600 block Robert Fulton Highway, Fulton Township.

An autopsy determined the boy died of asphyxiation as he slept in a bed with his mother. The death was ruled a homicide.

On Thursday morning, state police Trooper Linda Gerow filed charges and arrested Harper at her home. District Judge Stuart Mylin arraigned Harper. She will be transported to Lancaster County Prison and held without bail.

Gerow filed the charges with approval by Assistant District Attorney Christopher Sarno.

The investigation revealed that Harper was warned numerous times by multiple medical professionals not to have the infant sleep in a bed next to her; Harper ignored those directives.

Also, another of Harper’s children, a 2-month-old, died of asphyxiation in Maryland in 2011 under similar circumstances.

In the Lancaster County case, a pediatrician warned Harper of the dangerous sleeping behavior six days before the boy died. Harper responded to those warnings by saying she was “going to do it anyway,” Gerow wrote in an arrest affidavit.

Harper demonstrated an “extreme indifference to the value of human life” by ignoring the repeated warnings of several doctors, Gerow wrote.

Harper has other children. Local social services are involved in the care of those children.

She is presumed innocent.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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