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New Twist Uncovered in Stillborn Murder Case

New Twist Uncovered in Stillborn Murder Case

Posted - Mar. 12, 2004 at 9:46 p.m.



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Sandra Yi ReportingA woman charged with murder in the death of her stillborn baby is getting national attention, and that news coverage is bringing interesting new information to light.

Melissa Rowland is in the Salt Lake County jail. We've uncovered evidence that she was offering to put her baby up for adoption in exchange for bail money—a baby that died two months ago.

Sandra Yi spoke to a California couple tonight who was interested in adopting that baby. Melissa Rowland first called Brian Farley from jail on February 26. She told him she was about to have a baby and was looking for a couple to adopt him. But that wasn't all.

Brian Farley: "Fortunately, I was smart enough to recognize that she's probably pulling a scam on me, but unfortunately my heart got involved in this."

Brian Farley and his wife want to adopt a baby. They were hopeful when they got a call from Melissa Rowland. He says she called him numerous times in the past two weeks, from the Salt Lake County Jail.

Brian Farley: "She told me she was pregnant, but she also told me that she knew the sex was going to be a boy and she was already two days late."

But what Farley didn't know was Rowland wasn't pregnant. She had given birth to twins, one stillborn, in January.

Yesterday, prosecutors charged her for the murder of the stillborn boy. They say she rejected the advice of doctors at three different hospitals who recommended a C-section to save the child. Farley heard the news, this morning.

Brian Farley: "It just sends chills. My wife is in chills. We're just sick over this."

Farley says Rowland offered her child for adoption. In exchange, she asked him to get her out of jail.

Brian Farley: "She begged and pleaded for me to post bond for her. She didn't want to be an inmate when she gave birth."

Farley refused because he thought Rowland was a flight risk. Still, he says, he had hope. "And I said, 'Are you willing to sign adoption papers with me? If you are, I'll get on a plan and fly to Salt Lake and sit in the hospital with you.' And she goes, 'Are you willing to bail me out of jail?' and I said, 'No'. And she said, 'Well, I got a father in Florida. I'm trying to work with him right now. Let me get back with you.' And that was the last I ever heard from her."

Now Farley and his wife are heartbroken. He says Rowland seemed desperate, but sincere.

Brian Farley: "My wife is so upset. It's unbelievable. She's in tears and I'm shaking mad. It's just ridiculous."

Farley says his adoption agency may have given Rowland the number to other prospective adoptive parents. He was trying to contact his lawyer today and says he will call the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office with his story on Monday.

Jail records and other information about Melissa Rowland paint a picture of a troubled past. She was a twin born to a mentally retarded mother. Rowland was placed in foster care almost immediately and adopted before her first birthday.

At the age of 12 Rowland was committed to a Pennsylvania mental hospital, diagnosed with "oppositional defiant disorder”, a condition defined by hostile and uncooperative behavior.

Rowland told her attorney she was hospitalized in a mental facility at least one other time and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her attorney is awaiting records to confirm that.

In January of 2000 Rowland was sentenced to five years probation in Pennsylvania for abusing her two year old daughter. Customers in a supermarket called police when Rowland punched and slapped the child in the store. That child was placed in foster care.

And before this week's murder charge Rowland was jailed in Utah for endangerment of the twin girl, who was born alive. That charge is based on allegations Rowland tested positive for alcohol and cocaine immediately after the birth.

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