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Mother Sentenced to 1-5 Years in Prison for Killing Her Child

March 11, 1987

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ A 22-year-old mother who reported her 2-week-old daughter kidnapped but later admitted killing the child was sentenced today to one to five years in prison.

Circuit Judge Thomas Steptoe ordered Kathleen Householder to serve the sentence at the federal prison for women at Alderson. She will receive credit for nearly 14 months she has served in the county jail and could be eligible for parole in six months, court officials said.

The case attracted national attention last year when Ms. Householder made tearful pleas on Washington television stations for return of her daughter, Lindsey.

The mother said her baby had been snatched from her unlocked pickup truck in the parking lot of a Winchester, Va., grocery while she was inside shopping.

Three weeks later, after a lie detector test and further questioning by police, she directed police to the Shenandoah River, where the the baby’s body was found wrapped in a plastic trash bag. Autopsy reports indicated the child died of head injuries and asphyxiation.

Earlier this year, Ms. Householder pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Her lawyer argued that she was not criminally responsible for killing the child because she suffered from post-partum depression.

Several defense witnesses testified that the syndrome is common among young mothers, when the anticipation of having a child is succeeded by a realization of the long-term responsibilities involved.

Steptoe declined to order the psychiatric treatment Askin had sought in place of a prison sentence.

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