WASHINGTON (AP) — A woman from Samoa studying to become a Catholic nun has been charged in the District of Columbia with smothering her newborn son, police said.
The woman, 26-year-old Sosefina Amoa, gave birth to the boy Oct. 10 in her room at the Little Sisters of the Poor convent, police said. Afraid the nuns would hear the newborn's cries and discover she lied about sexual activity, police say Amoa told investigators she smothered him by placing a wool garment over the child's mouth and nose and applying pressure.
A day later she and a nun took his body, in a small black luggage bag, to a hospital, police said. Investigators say they found bloody clothing and small traces of blood during a search of the convent room where Amoa had been staying.
Amoa was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder after the death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. She was ordered to remain jailed Friday while under suicide watch.
Her public defender declined to comment on the case Friday.
The religious order said in a statement that it was praying for everyone involved.
"We all feel that this is a tragic situation," said Sister Constance Veit, communications director at Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women that serves the elderly poor.
In Washington, the order maintains apartments and residential and nursing facility rooms on a 7-acre property near Catholic University.