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WILCOX COUNTY, AL (WSFA) -
The woman who police say gave birth to a baby in 2006 and left it in a storage container for years has been arrested and charged with capital murder and abuse of a corpse in Wilcox County.
Chastity Ballinger was booked in the Mobile Metro Jail and transported back to the Wilcox County Jail.
According to Wilcox County Sheriff Earnest Evans, eight years ago, Ballinger delivered a full term baby inside her mobile home on her own, then wrapped it in a plastic bag and placed it inside a storage bin. At the time, she was living off of County Road 32 in Arlington.
The body was only recently discovered.
"We believe she was using some type of drug," the sheriff said. He told WSFA Ballinger was smoking crack at the time and told authorities she didn't know what she did.
Ballinger's ex-husband, Kenneth Sheppard, a truck driver, told WSFA she hid the pregnancy and the birth from him during his constant time on the road.
The couple later moved to Clarke County. The tote was mixed in with their belongings and placed in a storage facility behind their house. Ballinger went on with her life and in 2009, she welcomed a daughter with Sheppard.
"The corpse was taken from Wilcox County to Clark County and had been sitting there up until last year," the sheriff said.
Kenneth Sheppard, Ballinger's ex-husband, declined an interview but revealed off camera that he made the discovery this past September at the home they once shared on Mac Millan Drive in Thomasville. The couple had gone their separate ways and he was going through items in their shed when he found the container. Mixed in with baby toys, blankets and clothes were the remains of their infant son, Sheppard said.
Chastity Ballinger was charged with the abuse of a corpse in Clarke County in December and was released on bond. She was arrested in Mobile. That case is pending in court in Clarke County. Earlier this month, District Attorney Michael Jackson revealed that Ballinger could face more serious charges in the case.
"It's a very serious and tragic case. Anytime, a child is dead, doesn't have a chance to grow up, it's sad. We have an ongoing investigation and we expect more charges to be brought," Jackson told WSFA.
Authorities had been waiting for forensic test results to determine whether the infant was alive or dead at the time of its birth, according to Jackson and Sheriff Evans. Kenneth Sheppard said his ex gave conflicting reports to police. Then, this week came news that Ballinger had been charged in Wilcox County with capital murder and abuse of a corpse in connection with her child's death and she was taken into custody on the new charges. She has not been given a bond on her capital murder charge.
As for the infant's family, they are planning a proper burial for the child when investigation is complete.
"At first, she tried to tell me it was a dead dog. It wasn't the first pregnancy she hid from me. I don't know how anyone could ever do this. We had been together for 13 years and she had been the perfect wife and mother until she got mixed up with drugs and then she left everything behind. I would like to see her spend the rest of her life in prison," Sheppard said.
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