CLEBURNE - An inmate with drugs in her system tried to conceal her labor pains, then gave birth in the Johnson County Jail Monday to a child who did not survive, in what county Sheriff Adam King called "maybe the most horrible thing I've heard in my life."
The mother was arrested in Alvarado Thursday on an outstanding warrant, but she didn't want police to know just how far along she was in her pregnancy, King said.
Katlyn Noel Smith, 28, hid her labor pains in the eight-inmate holding tank that she was sharing with several inmates, King said, until the baby began to crown early Monday morning.
"Only at that point did she start banging on the door to get a guard'ss attention. All the other inmates in the lockup with her have been interviewed," King said. "None of them knew the extent of what was going on. We think she hid it because she is a hardcore drug addict."
She had her baby in the holding cell, and the child died Monday morning at 3 a.m., according to the death record from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.
King said Smith had methamphetamine and opiates in her system at the time of her arrest by Alvarado police officers, and that a substance he believes to be heroin was seized from her when she was booked into jail.
All female inmates are asked whether or not they are pregnant as they're being booked into the Johnson County Jail, and other jails, whether they are showing or not. Smith admitted to being pregnant when she was booked, but did not alert deputies to her labor pains until the very last moment.
King said the only clue to her fellow inmates that something was amiss was that "she was repeatedly using the toilet" in the lockup.
"As far as we know now, she was about seven months pregnant," King said. "So the child was carried to term where it could potentially have lived, but, unfortunately, that's not what happened here."
The medical examiner has not determined the cause of the baby's death, but King said the infant showed no signs of life after being born in the cell. The medical examiner has not listed the baby's gender, and the baby was not given a name.
He said the sheriff's office is handing the case to the Johnson County District Attorney's office, which will decide whether additional charges will be filed against Smith. District Attorney Dale Hanna's office offered no comment Tuesday, citing an ongoing investigation.
Smith was arrested Thursday on a warrant for failure to identify in connection with a previous arrest and bond out of Dallas County.
Three deaths have occurred while subjects were in police custody in Johnson County since 2013, according to the Texas Attorney General's office.
By the same count, 68 have died while in custody of Tarrant County law enforcement agencies since 2013. The Tarrant County Detention Bureau books in approximately 35,000 inmates per year, according to bureau statistics. Johnson County Jail booked in 8,584 inmates in 2017.
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