In April 2016, police were called to a one-story brick home with a white door and red shutters in Smithfield. Under that home were trash bags containing the remains of two infants, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
Police named Bridgette Morgan Smith, 41, a person of interest in the investigation. Smith is the daughter of Pamela McBride, who rents the home on Hartley Drive. Police said they found and questioned Smith, but at the time wouldn’t say what they spoke to her about.
Now Smith has been arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. on two counts of a North Carolina felony charge of concealing the death of a child. Smithfield police said Smith was extradited to North Carolina and on Monday was taken before a Johnston County magistrate. Her secure bond was set at $30,000 and she was taken to the Johnston County Jail.
A police report obtained by The Florida Times-Union shows that Smith was arrested at a Jacksonville hotel on June 21. She told police her address was her mother’s house, where the remains were found more than a year ago.
Smithfield police said Monday that Smith was arrested in connection with an investigation opened in April 2016, the same time the infant remains were found under her mother’s home. Police did not say if that, specifically, was why Smith was arrested.
Smith’s mother, McBride, told police her son, James Morgan, found two black trash bags under the house while running a cable. He described the bags as “squishy.” He looked inside one of the bags, and “recognized that it contained remains of something once living,” according to a search warrant.
An officer checked inside one of the bags, and saw a human foot, “approximately the size of a newborn’s foot” among other remains. The remains of two infants were wrapped in separate trash bags, with towels wrapped around the remains inside the bags, according to a search warrant.
McBride told police she has a daughter, Bridgette Morgan Smith, 41, who has battled a drug addiction “her entire life,” including cocaine and methamphetamine. McBride said Smith had lived with her off and on, sometimes for months at a time.
McBride told police she has custody of Smith’s children – an 8-year-old daughter and a toddler son. She also said she knew of a child her daughter put up for adoption after getting pregnant as a teenager.
She estimated her daughter had been pregnant about 10 times, but could only account for three children from those pregnancies. She told police her daughter wore oversized hoodies – even in summer – to conceal her pregnancies, and would leave for weeks when she could no longer conceal her condition.
Smith would come back no longer pregnant, without saying where the infants were, McBride said, adding that one time, Smith said she abandoned a child at a hospital. Another time, McBride said there was a “blood trail” leading to Smith’s bedroom after she had locked herself in the bathroom for hours with bathwater running.
Smithfield Police Capt. Ryan Sheppard would not say if the infant remains found under the house are related to Smith, saying only that the case is “still a very active investigation.”
In the April search warrant, police seized evidence including: a bottle of prenatal vitamins, five appointment letters for prenatal care an UNC Healthcare dated from early 2015, five department of social services letters addressed to Smith and a diary.
Police have not ruled out the possibility of additional charges, but Sheppard said the only thing they had probably cause to charge her with was concealing a death.
Police had been searching for Smith since she fled Smithfield after she was named a person of interest last year. Sheppard said the case was like something from a “Stephen King novel.”
“It seems like we’ve been chasing a ghost for six months,” Sheppard said.
Smith has a June 27 court date. She was charged under a North Carolina law that states: “Any person who, with the intent to conceal the death of a person, fails to notify a law enforcement authority of the death or secretly buries or otherwise secretly disposes of a dead human body is guilty of a Class I felony.”