The gruesome discovery of a newborn’s decomposed body in a Lafayette storage locker sold at auction unlocked a secret that had been kept for 14 years and led to a 57-year-old woman’s arrest.
Rebecca Landry on Thursday told police that her baby died in her apartment 14 years ago, several days after she gave birth to the child at home and in secret.
Instead of contacting authorities, according to an arrest affidavit on a count of second-degree murder, Landry stored the baby’s corpse in a box inside her mother’s storage unit.
The infant’s body was discovered Thursday by a man who had purchased the self-storage unit — and all of its contents — in an auction from Bridge Storage in the 2100 block of Verot School Road, according to the Lafayette Police Department.
Units are put up for auction when a tenant has gone 52 days without paying the bill, employees of the facility said on Thursday.
Although a DNA test is planned to confirm the child was Landry’s, she confessed to giving birth to the child at her apartment in 2001, where it survived for several days before it suddenly stopped breathing, according to the affidavit.
She told police she kept the body in a box at her apartment “for a period of time” until she moved it to the storage unit in 2002.
Landry, who has other children, claimed no one knew she gave birth and no one helped her store the corpse, according to the affidavit.
Police began investigating the situation about 8:20 a.m. Thursday, when a facility employee reported the man’s find, police said.
Authorities contacted the “documented renter” of the storage unit — identified by Landry as her mother — who said Landry had access to the unit and stored some paperwork and personal belongings there, according to the affidavit.
Neither a time frame nor a location for when and where the child was born were available on Thursday as police continue investigating Landry’s story, although detectives “are confident” the child — whose gender also remained unidentified — is hers, Lafayette police spokesperson Cpl. Nicole Benoit said.
An autopsy is expected to confirm the baby’s cause of death, Benoit said.
Landry remained in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on Thursday evening, according to booking records. Bond had not been set.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or call her at (337) 534-0825.