The Three of Swords: Sorrow
After so many years, why did she tell now?
Can you imagine the weight on her conscience, to finally tell after so long?
Or did she feel she owed it to the baby she called Billy?
Mother who last year admitted killing baby in 1988 gets 30 years
Beaufort woman told authorities she smothered her baby at Greenville shelter
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Updated: 4:38 pm
By Eric Connor
STAFF WRITER, Greenville News:
Related clicks: Video: Mother gets 30 years in baby's death
A Beaufort mother who waited 18 years before she told police that she smothered her infant son at a home for unwed mothers in Greenville was sentenced to 30 years in prison this afternoon.
In May 2006, Elaine Teresa Patterson, 45, had been living in Beaufort and walked into the police department to confess that she had lied about how her then 8-month-old son, Bill Rhinehart III, died in May 1988.
Two months later, Greenville police charged Patterson with murder.
Today, Patterson pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter before Circuit Judge Mark Hayes.
“She never got this thing off her mind,” Patterson’s defense attorney, Dan Farnsworth, told the judge. “She couldn’t hold it anymore. She probably would have never gotten caught.”
Patterson told Beaufort police that she didn’t intend to kill her son, but she knew that she was hurting him when she hit her son and smothered him against her chest.
The baby was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital on May 23, 1988, and died three days later.
The coroner concluded that the cause of death was a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which happens when a blood vessel ruptures outside the brain.
The coroner didn’t determine a manner of death, authorities said. After Patterson talked with Beaufort police, medical examiners took another look at the cause of death and found it consistent with the mother’s description of how she said she killed her son.
Patterson, who now has a teenage daughter, did not want to be in Greenville and got frustrated with the baby, who was born prematurely and was in the hospital for the first six months of his life, according to a statement she had Farnsworth read.
Patterson said she resented her mother for making her move to Greenville, and she was upset that she was away from her other child.
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