The Sioux Falls mother charged in a 1981 cold case murder investigation will stay in jail for now.
57-year-old Theresa Bentaas made her first court appearance Monday after being arrested on Friday for allegedly dumping her newborn baby in a ditch in east Sioux Falls nearly 40 years ago.
It’s been an emotional case, especially for one man who was also in court Monday.
Bentaas, a one-time paralegal, walked into court again on Monday, but this time she’s the one facing numerous charges, including first degree murder.
Even though Bentaas has no criminal history, the judge called her a flight risk and set bond at $250,000 cash only.
The man who found Baby Andrew John Doe back in 1981 was also in court. He remembers how horrifying it was to find him in the ditch.
“We pulled into a corn field to turn around and I seen the blankets laying there, so I just had to check it out and that’s when I found Andrew,” Lee Litz said.
Don Jorgensen: What was going through your mind?
Litz: A lot of shock and surprised. I just couldn’t believe I found him like that.
Recent DNA testing that wasn’t available back in 1981 is what led investigators to Bentaas.
According to court papers, when she was interviewed by police last Friday she told investigators she was “young and stupid.”
She admitted she tried hiding her pregnancy from family and friends, giving birth to the child in her apartment alone and then driving the baby to the location where he died.
Due to those circumstances, prosecutors say it was inhumane and involved torture, which qualifies it as a potential death penalty case.
“In my analysis that would be the only aggravated circumstance that could apply, that could make this a death eligible case. Obviously we have not filed in that direction and it’s premature to do so at this point,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan said.