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Amy Grossberg (born 1978) delivered a baby at a Comfort Inn in Newark, Delaware, in November 1996, assisted only by her then-boyfriend Brian Peterson, who later threw the baby into a dumpster. In March 1998, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter and served a two-year sentence; on April 22, 1998, Grossberg agreed to a plea bargain, and was sentenced to a two-and-a-half years in prison on July 9, 1998.

Grossberg and Peterson dated while at Ramapo High School, growing up in the affluent suburb of Wyckoff, New Jersey. Amy successfully hid the pregnancy from her parents. Amy most wanted to shield it from her mother. Grossberg wore baggy clothes and avoided her parents for the course of the nine months. In September, she enrolled as a freshman at the University of Delaware, while Peterson enrolled at college in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

In November 1996, the eighteen-year-old's water broke. Peterson drove the three hours from his college to hers, and checked them into the Comfort Inn in Neware, Delaware. Grossberg delivered the unnamed child on November 12. Conflicting stories have made the subsequent events a mystery to anyone except the couple, but Peterson and Grossberg claim they believed the infant to be stillborn, wrapped him in a garbage bag, and disposed of him in a dumpster.

The bloody sheets were discovered by a cleaning woman, who immediately contacted police. K-9 Police dogs found the body in the dumpster. Upon returning to school, Grossberg began to have severe seizures as a result of not having expelled the placenta. She was taken to a hospital, and it was clear to the doctors that she had just given birth. Not long after, police officials and the hospital put the two incidents together.

The couple’s initial claim that the child was stillborn was quickly rejected. An autopsy indicated that the infant was delivered alive and that the cause of death was several head fractures and Shaken Baby Syndrome. The cause of the injuries was inconclusive. The D.A. announced that he would charge the couple with first degree murder and pursue the death penalty against them. Peterson and Grossberg, who at first seemed to remain a loving couple, turned on each other and each began blaming the other. In December 1996 they were indicted for the murder. Peterson stated emphatically that Grossberg told him to “get rid of it!”; Grossberg claimed that Peterson acted alone in putting the boy into the dumpster.

In March 1998, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Grossberg at her trial. In addition to his initial claims, he stated that he tried to get Amy to a hospital, but she refused. When Grossberg heard Peterson's statement in detail, she agreed to a plea bargain, on April 22, 1998. She admitted to unintentionally causing the death of the infant and said that she and Peterson never planned to kill the baby. A concern of attorneys for both defendants in regard to going to trial was that the pictures of the baby's head (it was noted on Court TV that such pictures could not be shown on television) would be displayed in court and lead to more severe penalties.

While Peterson was sentenced to two years, Grossberg was held to be more responsible and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years.

Not all forensic pathologists agree with the fact that the baby was born alive. Some feel that infant was likely stillborn or drew breath once or twice before dying. Bruising to a baby's head can also occur during birth, particularly if the mother is young, it's her first child, and the mother has a small pelvis. The baby also had congenital abnormalities, increasing the likelihood of stillbirth.

A Season 8 episode of Law & Order was based on the case as were episodes of The Practice and Homicide: Life on the Street.

The Love of My Life

Peterson and Grossberg's story was fictionalized by the writer T. Coraghessan Boyle in his collection of short stories, After The Plague, the story was entitled "The Love of My Life" (pages 121-139). Boyle found the story in a newspaper and was curious how a loving couple could make up their minds to commit the crime they did and explored their points of view through his fictional characters, China Berkowitz and Jeremy (surname unknown) and followed the case history as closely as possible to build an accurate picture of what Peterson and Grossberg went through, changing only such details as the names of the people involved and the sex of the infant.

Brian Peterson went on to get married and now lives in Florida. Amy Grossberg started a high end greeting card business with her parents.

See also

The true story of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson was told in a non-fiction crime book by journalist Doug Most, who covered the case for The Record of Hackensack, N.J. for more than two years. The book was called "Always in Our Hearts: The story of Amy Grossberg, Brian Peterson, the pregnancy they hid and the child they killed." In the book, Most traces the story from their high school days in New Jersey through the pregnancy and secret delivery in a motel room to the court hearings and ultimately the sentencing. Of the book, Kirkus Reviews called it a "true crime page turner" and Booklist said, "Teens will be drawn to this examination of a horrific crime committed by two bright college students."

Sources

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Amy S. Grossberg (born 1978) delivered a baby at a Comfort Inn in Newark, Delaware, in November 1996, assisted only by her then-boyfriend Brian C. Peterson, who later threw the baby into a dumpster. In March 1998, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter and served a two-year sentence; on April 22, 1998, Grossberg agreed to a plea bargain, and was sentenced to a two-and-a-half years in prison on July 9, 1998.

Contents

Pregnancy and birth

Grossberg and Peterson dated while at Ramapo High School, growing up in the affluent suburb of Wyckoff, New Jersey.[1] Amy successfully hid the pregnancy from her parents. Amy most wanted to shield it from her mother. Grossberg wore baggy clothes and avoided her parents for the course of the nine months. In September, she enrolled as a freshman at the University of Delaware, while Peterson enrolled at college in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

In November 1996, the eighteen-year-old's water broke. Peterson drove the three hours from his college to hers, and checked them into the Comfort Inn in Newark, Delaware. Grossberg delivered the unnamed child on November 12. Conflicting stories have made the subsequent events a mystery to anyone except the couple, but Peterson and Grossberg claim they believed the infant to be stillborn, wrapped him in a garbage bag, and disposed of him in a dumpster.

Investigation

The bloody sheets were discovered by a cleaning woman, who immediately contacted police. K-9 Police dogs found the body in the dumpster. Upon returning to school, Grossberg began to have severe seizures as a result of not having expelled the placenta. She was taken to a hospital, and it was clear to the doctors that she had just given birth. Not long after, police officials and the hospital put the two incidents together.

The couple’s initial claim that the child was stillborn was quickly rejected. An autopsy indicated that the infant was delivered alive and that the cause of death was several head fractures and Shaken Baby Syndrome. The cause of the injuries was inconclusive. The D.A. announced that he would charge the couple with first degree murder and pursue the death penalty against them. Peterson and Grossberg, who at first seemed to remain a loving couple, turned on each other and each began blaming the other. In December 1996 they were indicted for the murder. Peterson stated emphatically that Grossberg told him to “get rid of it!”; Grossberg claimed that Peterson acted alone in putting the boy into the dumpster.

In March 1998, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Grossberg at her trial.[2] In addition to his initial claims, he stated that he tried to get Amy to a hospital, but she refused. When Grossberg heard Peterson's statement in detail, she agreed to a plea bargain, on April 22, 1998.[3] She admitted to unintentionally causing the death of the infant and said that she and Peterson never planned to kill the baby. A concern of attorneys for both defendants regarding going to trial was that the pictures of the baby's head would be displayed in court and lead to more severe penalties. (It was noted on Court TV that such pictures could not be shown on television.)

While Peterson was sentenced to two years, Grossberg was held to be more responsible and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years.

Not all forensic pathologists agree with the fact that the baby was born alive. Some feel that infant was likely stillborn or drew breath once or twice before dying. Bruising to a baby's head can also occur during birth, particularly if the mother is young, if the child is her first, and the mother has a small pelvis. The baby also had congenital abnormalities, increasing the likelihood of stillbirth.[citation needed]

Aftermath

Brian Peterson went on to get married and now lives in Florida. Amy Grossberg started a high end greeting card business with her parents.[citation needed]

Media portrayals

These events were depicted in a non-fiction crime book by journalist Doug Most, who covered the case for The Bergen Record of Hackensack, New Jersey for more than two years. The book was called Always in Our Hearts: The Story of Amy Grossberg, Brian Peterson, The Pregnancy they Hid and the Child they Killed. The book traces the story from their high school days in New Jersey through the pregnancy and secret delivery in the motel room, to the court hearings and ultimately the sentencing.[4] Of the book, Kirkus Reviews called it a "true crime page turner" and Booklist said, "Teens will be drawn to this examination of a horrific crime committed by two bright college students."[citation needed]

Peterson and Grossberg's story was fictionalized by writer T. Coraghessan Boyle in a story, "The Love of My Life", which appeared in his collection of short stories, After The Plague. After learning of the story in the media, Boyle became curious as to how a couple could commit such an act, and explored their points of view through a fictionalized account of the case, changing certain details such as the characters' names and the gender of the infant.

Law and Order also devoted a story to this case. In the episode, the two teens are acquitted.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Remember Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson?". nbcphiladelphia.com. NBC Universal. January 22, 2009. http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Remember-Amy-Grossberg-and-Brian-Peterson.html. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ Hanley, Robert (March 10, 1998). "In a Plea Deal, Youth to Testify In Baby's Death". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/10/nyregion/in-a-plea-deal-youth-to-testify-in-baby-s-death.html. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ Hanley, Robert (April 23, 1998). "Teen-Ager Pleads Guilty in Death Of Her Newborn, as Boyfriend Did". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/23/nyregion/teen-ager-pleads-guilty-in-death-of-her-newborn-as-boyfriend-did.html. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  4. ^ Most, Doug (1999). Always In Our Hearts: The Story Of Amy Grossberg, Brian Peterson, The Pregnancy They Hid And The Baby They Killed. Specialty Publications. ISBN 096547335X. 

Sources


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