Morganton man reacts to wife’s arrest in 21-year-old murder

Morganton man reacts to wife’s arrest in 21-year-old murder

MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - 21 years after a newborn baby was discovered beaten, in a bag on the side of the road, deputies have now arrested the baby’s mother.

Those deputies in Cumberland County never knew who the baby was. They had given him the name “Baby Michael.”

Now, DNA testing has led them to arrest the child’s mother 54-year-old Deborah O’Conner in Morganton.

“I’ve been doing this ever since yesterday,” Charles O’Conner says, through tears. “I haven’t slept all night.”

Charles O’Conner has been married to Deborah O’Conner for about 10 years. She was arrested in their Morganton front yard, charged with first degree murder.

“When he said first degree murder, my heart dropped,” O’Conner says. “My heart dropped.”

Investigators say his wife admitted to being Baby Michael’s mother.

“We hope sometimes that you would make the right choice,” Sheriff Ennis Wright says. “But in this situation, the right choice wasn’t made.”

In March 1999, his deputies say O’Conner’s baby was found beaten to death in a plastic bag, on the side of the road. The baby’s name “Baby Michael,” was after the Patron Saint of Law Enforcement Officers.

Charles O’Conner says his wife never mentioned anything that would connect her to something like this, but he believes she did it.

“DNA don’t lie,” he says. “I would be stupid if I sat here and told you, ‘No, I don’t believe it.’”

He says his wife has mental health issues, and he plans to stand by her.

“Debbie is not a murderer,” he says. “She is not a cold-blooded murderer.”

Sheriff’s deputies are using this case to send a message.

“If you’re a perpetrator, we’re not going to stop or rest until we find justice in that case,” Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West says.

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