1981 Death of newborn baby in South Dakota solved when DNA-linked to Mother 


According to the AP, Theresa claimed her baby was born dead. “He was not moving. He was not breathing. He was not alive,” she said to the parole board.

Dirk was not charged. He and the defendant went on to have two children that are now adults. They also have grandchildren.  Theresa by all accounts is a loving and caring mother and grandmother. And her children testified, to that, at her parole hearing.

Alford Plea

Theresa initially pleaded “not guilty” to 3 charges. In December 2021 she took an “Alford plea” to a first-degree manslaughter charge. She maintained her innocence but agreed to a guilty plea. And prosecutors dropped first- and second-degree murder charges.

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Her attorneys maintained that Bentaas had not killed her baby. And that he died soon after his unexpected birth.

And she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Parole was granted by circuit judge Andrew Zell at a hearing on Thursday, March 17, 2022. She spent two months in prison and was held in jail for 73 days pre-trial.

DNA-linked technology

The local newspaper the Argus Leader points out that DNA technology is being used more often to solve cold cases. Investigative methods merging DNA and genealogy were used by law enforcement in the 1992 murder of teacher Christy Mirack, the 58-year of Marise Ann Chiverella case, and the infamous “Golden State Killer” case.