Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 27, 2012

Full-term infant: Charges leveled in death

RICHLANDS, Va. — A Tazewell County woman is in custody following her arrest on a two-count indictment charging her with involuntary man-slaughter and child endangerment stemming from the death of her full-term infant child.

Karen Ann Elder, 46, of Richlands, gave birth to a female child on Sept. 6, 2011, at a Richlands hospital, according to Dennis Lee, Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

“The infant was born and survived for 35-40 minutes,” Lee said. “The state medical examiner’s office determined that (she) died as a result of a toxic level of a prescription drug in (her) system. She was a full-term child. The prescription drug led to a live baby’s death.”

Lee said that the infant’s body was immediately sent to the medical examiner’s office. “The investigation took a long while,” Lee said. “That’s why there was a delay in seeking the indictment.”

Lee said that the Richlands Police Department and Virginia State Police investigated the case. A Tazewell County grand jury meeting on Sept. 11, returned the sealed indictment that was unsealed late last week when the suspect was in custody.

“She is still in custody,” Lee said. “Bond was set, but she has not been able to make bond yet.”

Lee said no additional court dates have been scheduled for the suspect at this time.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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