Sioux Falls Police Say They’ve Solved 38-Year-Old Homicide of Newborn Baby

Theresa Bentaas

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sioux Falls Police say they have solved a cold case homicide dating back to 1981.

On February 28th, 1981, a newborn baby boy was found wrapped in a blanket in a ditch near East 26th Street and Sycamore Avenue. An autopsy revealed the baby died from exposure to cold temperatures. Police say they received few tips and without DNA technology, the case went cold.

In 2009, Det. Mike Webb was assigned the case to give it another look. Over the past decade, Det. Webb worked with the South Dakota State Lab, the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and most recently Parabon NanoLabs. Parabon compared the baby’s DNA to a public genetic genealogy database for comparison and found a DNA match to a family in Sioux Falls.

Police were able to identify the grandmother of the newborn baby and confirm the DNA match.Police identified and interviewed the suspected mother and father of the newborn on February 27th, 2019, a day before the anniversary of the newborn’s discovery.

Police arrested the newborn’s mother, 57-year-old Theresa Rose (Josten) Bentaas on Friday, March 8th. Bentaas is facing 1st-degree murder, 2nd-degree murder, and 1st-degree manslaughter charges. Police determined the father of the newborn did not know about the newborn.

Bentaas is in custody and is being held on a $250,000 cash bond.

Categories: Crime