GRAND FORKS (AP) - A woman who kept her 2-year-old daughter's body in her apartment for about two weeks with two other children says she was unable to let go after the child died of the flu.
Jody Weaver is to be sentenced this week on charges of child abuse or neglect, disturbing a dead body and failure to report a death.
Autopsy results could not confirm what caused the death of Weaver's 2-year-old daughter, Destiny, in early February 2007. Weaver told WDAZ TV it was the flu.
Weaver lived in a Grand Forks apartment with Destiny, Destiny's twin brother, Devon, and older sister, Savannah. She told said she and her children got the flu but she thought they would recover.
"Devon had the flu, I got the flu, Destiny got the flu. And I assumed we'd all make it through it," Weaver told WDAZ. Devon recovered and she thought Destiny would, too, she said.
"I thought, why is Devon up before Destiny? And I went to pick her up and she was cold. The most terrifying moment of my life. I hope no mother or father has to go through that ever. And I pray for those who have had to do it," Weaver said.
Clinging to her dead child for weeks was her way of avoiding reality, she said.
"It was just like I existed, that's all. I would go in there and I would hold her and I would sit there and read her a book. I would light a candle. That's what happened," she told WDAZ.
"I wasn't about to let her go, I couldn't. I just couldn't," she said.
"I didn't murder her. It was a tragedy. A sad tragedy that I will never live down," Weaver said.
Prosecutors said the abuse or neglect charges allege Weaver did not properly care for her other two children by keeping Destiny's body in their home. The children were placed in protective custody.
Weaver said she told the other children that Destiny was sleeping. She said she wrapped the child's body in blankets, read and lit a candle in the room.
After Weaver's boyfriend, Clarence Roger Smith,discovered the body, she said, the two made plans to take the other children to his family in Minnesota.
"I didn't know what he was doing and all of a sudden he comes out with this tote. 'We're not leaving her behind' is all he said," Weaver told WDAZ.
Destiny's body was in the tote. In the car, near St. Hilaire, Minn., Smith called authorities. He was sentenced later to two years probation and 60 days in jail for his involvement in transporting the child's body.
"This was a tragedy. It wasn't murder, it wasn't nothing like that," Weaver said. "You know, I'm a mom, I couldn't let go."