Minnesota woman pleads guilty to cold case murder of newborn

The plea deal caps her prison sentence to 326 months. Jennifer Lynn Matter, 50, of Red Wing, was accused of leaving her newborn baby boy in Lake Pepin in 2003.

Jennifer Lynn Matter.jpg
Jennifer Lynn Matter.
Contributed / Goodhue County Sheriff's Office

RED WING, Minn. — A 50-year-old Minnesota woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder related to leaving her infant son in Lake Pepin in 2003.

Jennifer Lynn Matter, of Red Wing, entered her plea Wednesday, Jan. 25, in Goodhue County District Court. As part of the plea deal, Matter pleaded guilty to felony second-degree murder with intent but not premeditated. A second felony charge, second-degree murder without intent and not premeditated, will be dismissed.

In accordance with the plea deal, the prosecution will withdraw a motion to seek an aggravated sentence. The prison sentence will be capped at 326 months.

Matter's sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 28.

She was identified as the mother of a newborn baby boy who was found deceased in Lake Pepin in 2003 and a newborn baby girl found in the Lower Boat Harbor of the Mississippi River near Red Wing.


She was initially charged in May 2022 after investigators obtained a court order to obtain a DNA sample from Matter, and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension forensic scientists confirmed the match to two children using Rapid DNA technology.

The baby boy was discovered dead Dec. 7, 2003, in Lake Pepin at the Methodist Campus Beach in Frontenac. The girl was found dead Nov. 4, 1999.

Matter is not being charged in connection with the death of the girl, but authorities said further charges could be filed.

At the time the babies were found, investigators named the 1999 deceased infant girl "Jamie" and the 2003 boy "Cory." A third baby, a newborn girl, was found in 2007 in a marina slip by two workers from Treasure Island Resort and Casino near Red Wing and was named "Abby." That case remains under investigation.

Composite sketches of babies found, from left, in 1999, 2003 and 2007, respectively. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Goodhue Sheriff Investigator Jon Huneke and Minnesota BCA Special Agent Brittany Carstensen interviewed Matter at her residence April 25, 2022. When asked about her knowledge of the 1999 infant, Matter denied being the mother of the deceased child as well as being pregnant at the time. She declined to volunteer a DNA sample.

Investigators pursued and were granted a search warrant for her DNA sample.

Matter's DNA profile was compared against those of the 1999 and 2003 infants, and a biological link was established between Matter and the two babies.

Investigators interviewed Matter again May 5, 2022, and asked her what was going on with her life in 1999. She said she was in a bad mental state. She had been in and out of jail, drinking too much, and "doing a lot of stupid things."


She stated that she was not aware that she was pregnant and was on her way to drop off her kids, 2 and 5, at school and day care when she started bleeding.

She returned to her home in Red Wing and gave birth in the bathroom. She said the baby was born blue, was not breathing, and was not crying, "so she freaked out."

Matter said she was scared and wrapped the baby in a towel while trying to figure out what to do. One day passed, she estimated, but was not sure because she was drinking heavily. Matter said she drove to Bay Point Park in the middle of the night and put the baby in the water near the boathouses. She said she never told anyone about it.

Asked by investigators about the second baby in 2003, for which she has been charged with murder, Matter claimed she did not recall a second baby.

Later in the interview, she blurted out that "it was in Frontenac," Goodhue County. She said she was "almost positive" that she was at the public beach when she went into labor. She went to the beach to be alone, because there was an arrest warrant out for her, and she was trying to lie low.

"Matter stated that it was dark outside, it was cold, that she did not look to see the gender of the child, and that she remembered leaving the baby on the beach," the report states.

She said the baby was breathing fine and may have been crying, but "she didn't remember it." She did not call 911, but hoped that someone in the nearby houses would find the baby.

Matter said she did not go to Frontenac knowing she was in labor, and did not think about or plan to leave the baby somewhere safe. She did not tell anyone about the 2003 baby, "as that was not really something someone would want to talk about."

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at
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