November 12

This Day in History

Crime

Nov 12, 1996:

High school sweethearts murder their newborn child

Young lovers Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson check into a Delaware motel. During their stay, Grossberg gave birth to a 6 pound, 2 ounce baby. When the infant was later found dead in a trash container behind the motel, the strange and unsettling story drew national attention.

Grossberg and Peterson were high school sweethearts. Though Grossberg became pregnant during her senior year of high school, she managed to conceal the pregnancy from friends and family. Letters sent from Grossberg to Peterson during the fall of her freshman year of college reveal that as her delivery date approached, she was feeling resentful toward the unborn child and thinking about her options. "I am sorry I look fat and ugly," she wrote. "I wish I could have my nice body back. All I want is for it to go away. I can't get caught. I can't. I can't."

After Grossberg gave birth, Peterson placed the infant in a garbage bag and whisked it out to a trash bin behind the motel. In an autopsy report, medical experts revealed that the baby was alive at birth and died of massive head trauma, which refuted the couple's claim that the infant was stillborn.

Though prosecutors initially tried to pursue murder charges against Grossberg and Peterson, both eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter. Peterson was the first to cooperate with officials, and in return he received a two-year sentence. Grossberg received the same sentence plus six additional months after agreeing to cooperate. At the sentencing, Grossberg made an apparently remorseful statement. "I put aside what was best for my baby," she said, "and that pain will be with me the rest of my life."

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