After Five Decades, 78-Year-Old Woman Makes Gruesome Confession

A Michigan woman in a nursing home confessed that she killed her infant son 54 years ago. The prosecutor claims that he won't be pressing charges, at least for now.

Janice Summerfield, 78, says she smothered her 8-month-old son William in 1961. Her other son, Phil Summerfield, who was 4 1/2 years old at the time, has carried the guilt for it all these years because he found his brother William dead in his bed.

"I was shy of 5 years old. I woke, and he was dead," Mr. Summerfield recalled. "I picked him up and took him downstairs. She told me it was my fault."

Daughter Paula Gastian, 55, began questioning her mother when she heard rumors that Summerfield had been making incriminating statements to the nursing home staff. She says her mother admitted killing William.

Aside from William, Summerfield also gave birth to twin girls who died several months apart as infants. Their death certificates both list bilateral pneumonitis as the cause of death. Another baby of Summerfield's died in the hospital days after she gave birth.

Gastian says she always suspected something. Her mother was neglectful and a drug abuser. Her father was a truck driver who was often on the road away from home. He's now serving time in prison due for sexually assaulting a child.

Gastian, Phil and Mike, another Summerfield brother who made it to adulthood, sat down with investigators. William's body had been exhumed and examined for four weeks, but was so badly decomposed that no evidence could be found. Police discussed the possibility of exhuming the twin girls.

"I don't feel like anything was really accomplished," said Mike, who was not surprised about the revelation. "We are done now. With any wound, once it is closed it is going to get better. It's the way it works."

Summerfield reportedly told the Enquirer in a phone interview, "I killed that baby. My mind wasn't right. I killed that baby. I didn't know what I was doing."

Prosecutors feel they don't have enough under law to issue charges against Summerfield. Confession is not enough.

"We have many cold cases that are 25 or 30 years old, but in this case the scientific evidence made it very difficult," Chief Assistant Calhoun County Prosecutor Daniel Buscher said. "We wanted to do the right thing because we only have one chance at prosecution."

Source: WF My News 2
Photo: Detroit Free Press

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