Crime - Sacto 911

Mother charged with murder in death of baby found in Yolo slough

Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto speaks at a news conference Saturday about the arrest of Samantha Green in connection with the death of her infant son, Justice Rees, who was found lifeless in a Yolo slough on Wednesday.
Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto speaks at a news conference Saturday about the arrest of Samantha Green in connection with the death of her infant son, Justice Rees, who was found lifeless in a Yolo slough on Wednesday. bnguyen@sacbee.com

The mother of an infant found dead last week in a remote area of Yolo County has been charged with one open count of murder in the child’s death, county Sheriff Ed Prieto said Saturday.

Samantha Green, 23, was arrested at 12:15 a.m. Saturday after questioning by investigators and charged with murder in the death of her son, Justice Rees, Prieto said.

Green is being held without bail at Yolo County jail in Woodland and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Prieto declined to reveal why she and the child ended up in the remote location along Ridge Cut Slough, where the incident began Tuesday.

Prieto reiterated on Saturday that investigators could not substantiate allegations from family members that Green had been abducted and abused before calling for help.

“At this point here, we don’t have anyone else that was involved,” Prieto said during a news conference in Woodland. “No stone was left unturned.”

The longtime sheriff called the episode an “extraordinarily tragic story” that has affected him personally as well as his deputies.

The specific nature of the murder charge against her will be determined by the Yolo County district attorney.

The body of Green’s 20-day-old baby was found last Wednesday in thick brush along Ridge Cut Slough, a remote area near Knights Landing, after an extensive search by emergency workers on foot and by boat and helicopter.

The previous day, Green was found in a backyard near the slough, scratched and bruised. The search began soon after she called 911 from that location using her cellphone, seemingly confused about where she was and why.

Preliminary autopsy results found that Justice may have drowned or died of hypothermia.

Prieto said the case ranked among the “top five worst situations” he’s seen in his 47-year law enforcement career. The sheriff explained that detectives pursued a “slow and methodical” investigation to eliminate other possibilities before arriving at the conclusion that Green was solely responsible.

It remains a mystery where Green and her baby went after failing to show up for a family gathering on Feb 20. Prieto said detectives believe Green drove her car to the slough area with Justice – and no one else.

Authorities do not have a motive in the case. Prieto said Green has remained cooperative throughout the investigation.

Green declined Saturday to be interviewed from her cell at the Yolo County jail.

“We are devastated,” said Justice’s paternal grandmother, Patty Rees, when reached by phone Saturday. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Randy Green, the baby’s grandfather and Green’s father, declined to be interviewed when contacted by The Sacramento Bee.

“It’s too early,” Randy Green said before hanging up, adding that he had just watched the sheriff’s news conference.

Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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