A 24-year-old Vancouver woman has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her two newborn sons, police announced yesterday.
Both babies were born less than a year apart and were allegedly discarded shortly after birth.
Neighbours found Sarah Jee Wah Leung’s first baby dead and wrapped in a plastic bag between her parents’ home on Charles Street on April 2, 2009.
On March 7 of this year, she gave birth at home to another son whose body has not been recovered and is believed to be in the Vancouver landfill.
“Few incidents are more tragic than the death of a child, but when that death is allegedly at the hands of the mother it is unimaginable,” said Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke.
“When it is two children, it is incomprehensible.”
The Crown approved the second-degree murder charges as opposed to charges of infanticide, which is common in cases of mothers killing their newborn babies.
“They felt that was the appropriate charge in this case,” he said.
Second-degree murder carries a possible life term while those found guilty of infanticide face a maximum five-year prison term.
Lemcke said neither police nor Leung’s family knew she was pregnant with the second baby, and if authorities had known they would have got the Ministry of Children and Families involved.
He added that Leung hid the first pregnancy from her family, too.
“An investigation of this scope and duration is not only complex but involves the expertise of professionals outside the police department,” he said.
“Investigators worked tirelessly in close consultation with Crown counsel for 14 months to bring this case to a close.”
Leung turned herself in upon learning of the charges against her.
Lemcke wouldn’t discuss how the babies died or Leung’s alleged motives.
It’s unclear if the babies had the same father and Lemcke said no one else in the family or extended family is facing charges.
“I would like to recognize the lead investigators on this case, a case that took an emotional toll on even the most seasoned officers,” he said. “Dealing with the deaths of infants is a terrible thing.”