SARAH LOCKNER, pictured at right in a 2012 Facebook photo, gave birth in this bathroom in the McDonald’s at 185 Chestnut St. in Redwood City. Post photo.
BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The woman who delivered a baby boy in a bathroom at a McDonald’s and then allegedly tried to drown the newborn in a toilet is a mother of a 3-year-old, a high school friend said yesterday.
Sarah Lockner, 25, gave birth to the baby boy in the restaurant at 185 Chestnut St. in Redwood City on Labor Day (Sept. 4), and had said she didn’t know she was pregnant before giving birth, according to prosecutors.
Lockner has a 3-year-old son, and apparently did not know she was pregnant with that child either, said Jessi Gravelle, who attended Mira Loma High School in Sacramento with Lockner.
“She seemed to be a great mom,” Gravelle told the Post through a Facebook message yesterday.
According to Gravelle, Lockner said she had “had no clue” she was pregnant before she gave birth to the boy who is now 3.
Gravelle said that back in high school, Lockner was “funny and happy.”
Steve Wagstaffe, the San Mateo County District Attorney, said that his office is aware of Lockner’s claims that she did not know she was pregnant with either child and is “investigating to see if that is accurate.”
How it happened
While at work last week, Lockner told her co-workers she was having stomach pains, and was spending quite a bit of time in the bathroom, according to Wagstaffe.
Lockner was told by her boss to go home if she was in pain, and around 10 p.m. she clocked out but stayed in the bathroom, said Wagstaffe.
One of Lockner’s co-workers checked on her, and saw blood on the floor, said Wagstaffe. Lockner told the co-worker she was having a heavy men
strual cycle. But when a second co-worker went into the bathroom, she looked over the stall divider and saw a newborn child in the toilet in Lockner’s stall, the DA said.
Lockner had the baby boy face-down in the toilet and was pressing the child into the water, said Wagstaffe. The co-worker was told by Lockner not to tell the police, but the woman told their boss and called police.
The baby did not have a pulse when paramedics arrived, but was revived and was put into a coma at the hospital, Wagstaffe said.
The baby is alive, but it is not known what neurological damage he may have sustained, Wagstaffe said.
An unusual case
Santa Clara University law professor Michelle Oberman — who has studied the phenomena of mothers who did not know they were pregnant and either killed or attempted kill their newborns — called the Lockner’s case “unusual” since the woman has had a child before.
Typically, Oberman said, the women are young, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and are not connected with the man who fathered their child. They believe that any resources for them are out of the question.
“There is something terrible going on in their minds, a disconnection fro
m their body and marriage and feeling a lack of control and to the point of not getting care,” Oberman said.
Explaining what happened
Oberman said that the defense attorney will have to “make an incomprehensible act more comprehensible.”
The defense attorney will have to tell a judge, jury and prosecutors
what happened and was going on with the defendant during the months of pregnancy.
“The work of a defense lawyer is to help us understand how the world looks (to the defendant) and the mental state of the defendant,” Oberman said.
Oberman said it varies how these women are prosecuted. Sometimes, the charges are dropped, other times the women are sentenced to life behind bars.
Typically the woman will not receive custody of her child after the case is completed. But in Canada and some other countries, women who attempt to kill their newborns get mental health help and their children are returned to them.
It is unclear who will get custody of Lockner’s new baby once he is no longer under a doctor’s care. Child Protective Services is trying to determine if there is a family member the child can go to, Wagstaffe said.