Crime & Courts

Coroner rules baby’s death homicide after Rock Hill woman buries son in yard

Ostrowski Rock Hill Police

A Rock Hill woman who gave birth to a baby boy in May apparently hid the pregnancy from her family and buried the infant in her back yard when it did not survive, according to Rock Hill Police.

Tara Lynn Ostrowski, 37, of Walkers Mill Circle, was arrested Tuesday and charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, according to police reports. She was placed in the Rock Hill city jail, where bond has been denied.

The York County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday said the baby’s death has been ruled a homicide. Toxicology results were positive for hydrocodone and methamphetamine.

The baby’s size was consistent with 35-36 weeks gestational age, Coroner Sabrina Gast said in the release. The baby was alive when he was born and lived six to eight minutes, according to an arrest warrant.

Ostrowski told police the baby had “labored breathing and then stopped breathing and became unresponsive,” the warrant states.

Officials say Ostrowski took non-prescribed pain medication during pregnancy.

A mental health employee on May 26 told Rock Hill officers she received information from an anonymous informant who said Ostrowski gave birth on May 18, according to a police report. The informant said Ostrowski “kept the pregnancy secret from her family and husband.”

Ostrowski reportedly divulged all of this information to the informant May 25.

The Department of Social Services told officers they “had no knowledge of a recent baby turned over to a safe haven,” police said.

“According to the information received, the baby did not survive, so Ostrowski buried the newborn in the backyard,” the police report states.

Detectives went to the home and spoke with Ostrowski, who admitted to the allegations and showed detectives where the baby was buried, police said. The body was recovered and taken to the morgue at Piedmont Medical Center.

Ostrowski was taken into emergency protective custody and transported to the hospital as well.

The charges against Ostrowski came after a two-month-long investigation by a special team that investigates child fatalities, according to 16th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson. This team, implemented by York County Coroner Sabrina Gast to investigate child fatalities, consists of representatives from the coroner’s office, the solicitor’s office, the law enforcement agency investigating the death and any first responders involved in the case.

That team decides whether or not there should be further investigation, or if any charges should be filed, Thompson said. In this case, they decided to charge Ostrowski with unlawful conduct toward a child.

“There’s no evidence that she intentionally killed the child,” Thompson said. “... The facts of this case don’t lend themselves to a manslaughter.”

Thompson said unlawful conduct toward a child, which carries a maximum of 10 years, is a greater charge than involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of five years.

Included in that investigation were an autopsy and toxicology testing. Thompson said investigators were able to charge Ostrowski quickly after those results came back.

Check back later for more details.