College can be a great experience for a lot of people. It’s a time in many people’s lives where they learn so much about the world and about themselves, both in and out of class.
But for others, college can be overwhelming. Juggling academic demands with extra curriculars and personal problems can be too much to bear. At one sorority house, the sisters would find out that one of them was having a much tougher time than they had assumed…
Muskingum University is a small, Presbyterian Liberal Arts college in the tiny town of New Concord, Ohio. With just about 1,300 undergraduate students and a dozen fraternities and sororities, it’s safe to say that Greek Life is a major part of the college experience there.
This was nowhere more true than inside the stone walls of “the Castle,” the sorority house of the local chapter of Delta Gamma Theta. Delta Gamma Theta described the local chapter as “a sisterhood dedicated to love and loyalty”…
Between their classes, parties, and navigating personal politics, the individual young women living in the Castle were balancing the elements of college life to varying success. For most of them, things were going relatively well.
But for the past few months, one of the sisters had been acting strangely. Emile Weaver, a sophomore, had rushed Delta Gamma Theta during her freshman year and moved into the sorority house this year. Since then, rumors started to circulate about her…
Emile had been partying noticeably harder than she used to, drinking lots of alcohol and smoking lots of marijuana. She had also gained a considerable amount of weight and was taking a number of unusual dietary supplements.
Emile was wearing baggier clothes and strategically holding a pillow or stuffed animal in front of her, leading some of her sorority sisters to gossip that maybe she was pregnant. By the spring of 2015, they would find out whether or not the rumors were true…
“A Murder Scene”
On the morning of April 22nd, one sorority sister opened the door to the bathroom and found an unexpected sight waiting for her. She saw the toilet splattered with a large amount of blood. She alerted the sorority house’s manager who sent out a mass text, saying whoever made the mess needed to clean it up. “It looks like a murder scene,” she wrote.
That night, four Deltas went out for ice cream and to talk about the insane news of the day. As they were talking about the scene in the bathroom and who was responsible, a horrible idea occurred to one of the sisters. What if the rumors about Emile’s pregnancy were true and the incident in the bathroom was related…
We Have to Check
“When we got back to the house, I suggested what if she threw [the baby] away,” said Madison, the sorority sister with the hunch. “They kind of thought it was a ridiculous idea, but Elise said she would go look, and I said I would go with her.” Madison and Elise went outside to where the sorority kept its trash.
The dumpster was empty but next to it, there was a trash bag on the ground. “Something wasn’t right,” Elise said. “It was heavy.” They tore a hole in the bag and found only regular trash at first. Then, Madison saw a tiny foot…
The women rushed inside to tell their fellow sorority sisters. When they went back out to look in the bag again, Elise collapsed and began to cry. “She said she saw a baby,” said Madison. “She said: ‘It has hair and eyes.’ “
In the small hours of the morning before, another sister, Moriah, woke up and walked downstairs. The Castle was quiet and dark, until she heard a strange sound. “Three or four cries … each about three seconds,” she said. The noise was coming from the bathroom. “I just assumed someone was on their phone in the bathroom playing a game or something,” she said…
Alone in the Night
Emile Weaver had given birth in the bathroom alone in the night. She’d used a knife from the kitchen to cut the umbilical cord, then put the newborn and the placenta in a trash bag, then dumped it outside. Then she sent a text message to the man she thought was the father, simply saying “no more baby.”
Police eventually arrested Weaver, charging her with aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said she’d hidden her pregnancy for months, all the while trying to kill her unwanted baby. That’s why she had been heavily abusing drugs and alcohol. The supplements she’d been taking were intended to be labor-inducing…
One remarkable thing about this case was how closely it mirrored another that happened at the same college a few years prior. Back in 2002, A Muskingum student named Jennifer Bryant wrapped her newborn baby in a blanket and left it to die in a trash can. She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, endangering a child, and abuse of a corpse.
Bryant’s lawyer argued that she was unaware that she was pregnant until she began giving birth and made her terrible decision in a panic. She was sentenced to three years in prison, of which she served 7 months. That apparently sounded like a great deal to Weaver because she hired the same lawyer to defend her…
Weaver initially tried to plead not guilty by reason of insanity but, when a judge ruled that she was mentally competent, she tried to use the same defense Bryant had. That she’d been unaware of her pregnancy.
Ignoring the Truth
The problem with that defense is that it didn’t match well with the facts. In early September of 2014, Weaver had visited the university’s wellness center to obtain birth control. In order to get it, she had to first take a pregnancy test. The test came back positive, but weaver refused to respond to the clinics calls, voicemails, text messages, even a certified letter…
Not Buying It
Neither the judge nor the jury bought Weaver’s defense. She was found guilty on all counts. “You tried over and over to take that baby’s life,” the judge said, referring to the alcohol, drugs and birth-inducing supplements she’d taken.
Throwing The Book
The Judge referred to a text she’d sent to the baby’s father saying she’d “taken care of” it and was “probably the most truthful statement you made,” adding “it was an inconvenience, and you took care of it.” Weaver was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.