South Bend, Ind. Heather Gipperich, the South Bend mother charged with neglect Friday tells NewsCenter 16 that drugs impaired her judgment the night she left her baby with a stranger.
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The 31-year-old mother admits to a decade-long battle with drug addiction.
“I was using when I found out I was pregnant,” Gipperich said. “I quit cold turkey and I was very, very ill and I was alone. I didn't have her father with me or even my family with me.”
Her daughter, Bethany Anne, was born early last summer and Gipperich said she was on the right track. But soon, she admits, she relapsed.
“I was depressed,” she said. “I had been to the Y[MCA] and I left too early. I didn't stay. I thought I could do it and I couldn't. I met some of the wrong people and it was a trigger and I relapsed.”
Charging documents say that on Feb. 10, Gipperich took the baby to a house in St. Joseph County to buy and use drugs.
“The night I left I had every intention of coming home,” she said. “I didn't plan on staying out, otherwise I never would have took my daughter with me if I planned to go out and be using.”
Investigators say Gipperich then gave her daughter to a woman she met that night. Gipperich says she was high and thought baby Bethany would be safer in her care.
“I thought it was the right decision. I just thought my little girl would be safe. No, I didn't have anywhere to go. I was too ashamed to go home and she had a home to take her to and she promised that she would bring her back to me,” she said.
Gipperich said she made several attempts to contact the woman but by the end of the weekend, she had no knowledge of the whereabouts of her baby. South Bend Police described her as “out of it” during her questioning and unable to give very many details about where she had been in the last few days.
Gipperich tells NewsCenter 16 that she was high during that questioning. She says this was the first time her addiction interfered with her ability to care for her daughter.
“This was the first time, I never had a hard time taking care of Bethany. Bethany was a very easy baby to take care of always happy, always playful,” she said.
Now Bethany is in the care of the Indiana Dept. of Child Services and Gipperich says there is a no contact order between the two of them.
She plans on checking into a treatment program on Tuesday, but says she welcomes and suggestions and recommendations to help her beat her addiction.