An Indiana woman has pleaded guilty and faces 30 years in prison for killing a young mother and then claiming the victim’s infant daughter as her own.
Prosecutors said Geraldine R. Jones, 39, murdered 23-year-old Samantha Fleming, of Anderson, after posing as an employee of the Indiana Department of Child Services and arriving at Fleming’s house on April 6, 2015, to allegedly take the mother and daughter to a court hearing, reports The Herald Bulletin.
After Fleming’s 21-year-old boyfriend reported her missing, police said the GPS on Fleming’s cell phone led them 11 days later to Jones’ residence in Gary, according to the Associated Press.
There, authorities located the missing 3-month old child, Serenity, in the care of Jones’ sister. She said she believed the infant belonged to her sister, who had abruptly left a week earlier to visit their mother in Texas, Indianapolis TV station WRTV reports.
Authorities acting on the sister’s complaint of a foul odor inside Jones’ residence searched the home and found Fleming’s body in a garbage bag inside a plastic storage bin and hidden in a closet, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. The body had been stabbed 10 times and doused with bleach.
After accepting an offer from the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office, Jones pleaded guilty Friday to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of criminal confinement for holding the mother and daughter against their wills, according to The Herald Bulletin, which first reported the plea.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Jones expects a punishment of 30 years in prison and 10 years of probation when she is sentenced on May 25, according to her defense attorney, Lisa DeLey, the AP reports.
Neighbors told police that Jones had said she was pregnant before the child showed up, according to The Herald Bulletin. Police who encountered a furnished nursery in Jones’ home, complete with a crib and changing table, said Jones told family members that she was expecting twins, but forbade friends and family from visiting her in the hospital.
According to prosecutors, Jones called Fleming’s mother on April 4, 2015, and portrayed herself as an employee of the state child welfare department who needed to speak with Fleming about her child. After obtaining Fleming’s phone number and calling her, Jones showed up two days later at Fleming’s address carrying a binder of papers and dressed in business attire.
As Fleming readied to accompany Jones to an alleged court hearing, Jones said it would “look good” if Fleming brought the baby as well, according to court documents, The Herald Bulletin reports.
Later that day, a text message sent to her family members from Fleming’s phone read, “The judge said I don’t deserve my kid.” Investigators, however, could not find any record of a scheduled court date.
Fleming’s boyfriend reported her missing on April 10. Her body was discovered on April 17.