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Mother of baby missing in June arrested in South Dakota

Mother of baby missing in June arrested in South Dakota

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A Bismarck woman whose baby was the subject of a search and Amber Alert in June and who missed a July court appearance related to that incident was arrested last week in South Dakota.

Dawn Morsette, 27, was arrested in late June after being unable to give police any information about her 7-month-old daughter’s whereabouts. The child was dropped off anonymously at the Sanford Hospital emergency room after a nearly daylong search by family and law enforcement.

Morsette was released from custody after posting a $2,500 bond. A state warrant was issued for her on July 29 after she failed to show up for a preliminary hearing on charges of felony child neglect and preventing arrest.

A couple of weeks before missing the court date, she pleaded guilty to ingesting a controlled substance, according to court documents. She was placed on probation and ordered to get treatment. She also has a previous child neglect conviction in 2015.

A federal warrant was issued for Morsette on Jan. 9 for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Electronic surveillance by the U.S. Marshals Service showed she was at a residence on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, according to federal court documents. She was arrested Feb. 6 at Rosebud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme on Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss the federal complaint because Morsette was in state custody in South Dakota. The dismissal allows the two states to move ahead with the extradition process, Delorme said in his motion.

State court documents do not show that any court proceedings are scheduled for Morsette. No attorney is listed for her.

North Dakota's Department of Human Services was contacted after the baby was dropped off at the emergency room. Public Information Officer Heather Steffl said once the department is involved in such cases it works to protect the child, which could mean placement with family members or in a licensed foster care home. The agency cannot disclose information about specific cases, Steffl said.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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