The baby boy never got a name or much of a chance.
He came into the world in his parents’ bedroom, struggled to breathe and then died of methamphetamine intoxication while his parents slept nearby, according to court documents. When they woke, the father said, he put the newborn’s body in a blue plastic feed bucket he’d bought at a hardware store and filled the bucket with concrete.
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On Tuesday, Cass County authorities charged Matthew and Krystal Scroggs of Pleasant Hill with second-degree murder and child endangerment. They knew the baby was in distress, Prosecutor Teresa Hensley said at a news conference in Harrisonville.
“And they failed to seek medical care for that child,” Hensley said.
The two, who remained at large Tuesday, also are charged with child endangerment for their other four children after samples of the children’s hair also tested positive for methamphetamine. Those children — ages 11, 6, 4 and 3 — are in state custody.
According to court documents, Krystal Scroggs, 29, acknowledged to police that she used meth throughout her pregnancy and never sought prenatal care. Matthew Scroggs, 28, initially denied to police that his wife had been pregnant. But when asked what was inside the blue tub, he hung his head and said, “The baby.”
He faces an additional charge of tampering with a motor vehicle. He and his wife also are charged with abandoning a corpse.
“I can only encourage the public’s help in locating these individuals,” Pleasant Hill Police Chief Robert Driscoll said. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the Pleasant Hill Police Department at 816-540-9109.
The charges came three months after authorities, responding to a tip, found the remains of a newborn baby encased in the bucket during a search of a detached garage at the Scroggs’ residence in the 300 block of Cline Street.
According to court documents, Krystal Scroggs said she did not want any more children, and the couple didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant. She said she and her husband did not select a name for their child and planned to give the baby up for adoption.
Krystal Scroggs told authorities the boy appeared normal but would not eat. Matthew Scroggs said the baby had trouble breathing. He told authorities that “the child would stop breathing unless Krystal Scroggs bounced or rubbed the baby.”
Shortly after the home birth, the couple went to sleep. When they awoke, the baby was dead, according to court documents. Krystal Scroggs said she placed the baby in a box and her husband agreed to bury him.
An autopsy indicated the baby died of methamphetamine intoxication caused by his mother’s drug use.
If convicted on all charges, Matthew Scroggs could face life plus 46 years. His wife could get life plus 39 years.