Craig woman arrested on charges of concealing death of infant
What appeared to be a routine drug bust Sunday night in Craig led to a gruesome discovery when officers found the body of an infant during the execution of a search warrant.
Police originally responded to the Colorado Inn on East Victory Way Sunday night after receiving a report from a concerned resident claiming they heard a baby crying in the room next to them, according to the arrest affidavit.
Mikayla Diane Hoppe, 26, of Craig, was arrested about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 on drug possession charges, along with 30-year-old Ronald Martin Chovanec III, also of Craig.
Hoppe was later charged with tampering with physical evidence and concealing death after police found a backpack in the hotel room that contained the remains of a 30-week-old baby.
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According to the arrest affidavit, officers smelled a foul odor, and inside the main, large zipper compartment to the backpack were several trash bags wrapped around a second backpack. Inside the second backpack were more trashbags and some clothing, a pillowcase and a possible towel, the affidavit states.
As officers continued to open up the backpack, officers discovered a dead, human infant inside the final trash bag.
During an initial investigation of death, Moffat County Coroner Jesse Arthurs approximated the age of the deceased baby at roughly 34 weeks old, and believed the baby was likely a stillborn.
While in custody at the Public Safety Center, police questioned Hoppe about the deceased infant. Hoppe said she had miscarriages in the past, and had one approximately a month ago around Christmas.
Hoppe told police that the baby she miscarried was the size of her hand and that she knew it was dead and “not big enough to make it,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Hoppe told police that when she miscarried, Chovanec took the infant from her, disappeared for approximately 10 minutes and then came back. She said she didn’t know what he did with the baby.
When questioning Chovanec at the Public Safety Center, officers got a different story. Chovanec said he only knew that Hoppe miscarried in early January, then saw blood in the toilet, and that was it. Police were unable to determine when or where Hoppe gave birth to the infant due to the different stories.
In an official autopsy, Medical Examiner Dr. Dean Havlik, of Grand Junction, could not state whether the infant was born alive or still born, but Dr. Havlik believes the baby was not born the morning of Jan. 26, and said the baby’s approximate age was 30 weeks in development and likely born within the last 10 days.
Hoppe is currently in Moffat County Jail on a $6,000 cash/surety bond and is on a deferred court sentence for identity theft charges stemming from an August 2019 arrest. Chovanec has not been charged in connection to the infant’s death.
Hoppe is scheduled to appear in Moffat County Court at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 3.
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