Discovery in Baby Crystal case ‘worse’ than tipster thought
By Corina Curry
ROCKFORD — Melvin Zarate doesn’t remember the exact date, but he borrowed Katie L. Stockton’s car a few years ago to run an errand.
It was filthy, Zarate said, filled with garbage and clothing.
It’s the same car police searched Wednesday, finding the skeletons of two infants in separate bags in the trunk.
“I’m surprised,” Zarate said. “Just when you think the worst, it’s worse than I thought.”
The “worst” is last week’s murder charges against Stockton stemming from the December 2004 death of a baby girl, found frozen to death in Stockton’s parents’ yard in rural Rockton. The “worse” is the discovery of the bones of two other babies in Stockton’s car.
Investigators have no idea how long the bodies have been in the trunk. The car has been in a South Beloit Police Department impound parking lot since Aug. 15, 2008, when Stockton was pulled over for driving on a suspended license and registration and taken to the Winnebago County Jail. Forensic specialists will examine the bones Tuesday.
Zarate, who met Stockton through a mutual friend in 2002, said he spoke with police Tuesday and told them about her car.
“I told them what it was like and that they should go through it,” he said. “I was thinking if she had the baby in the car, they could find evidence in there because she never cleaned it. I thought they’d find evidence about Baby Crystal. Instead, they find two more babies. It’s crazy.”
Police say Stockton gave birth to a full-term girl in December 2004, wrapped her in bloody clothing, placed the baby and the clothing in a garbage bag, dumped the bag along the road near her parents’ house, and left the baby to freeze to death. Law enforcement officials named the baby Crystal.
Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro also described Stockton’s 1993 Saturn sedan as “full of personal items.”
“There was a tremendous number of items in the car,” he said.
Jestina Gaasterland, who attended Hononegah High School with Stockton and was shocked by Stockton’s arrest in the Baby Crystal death, gasped loudly when she learned of the skeletons that police found in Stockton’s car.
“Oh my God. ... That is sick,” said Gaasterland, who lives in California. “One baby, it’s shocking. Two more? I can’t even put it into words. It makes me want to throw up.”