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Spring Lake woman pleads guilty to killing infant daughter

Posted December 6, 2010

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— A Harnett County woman was sentenced Monday to at least 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing her 11-month-old daughter three years ago.

Johni Michelle Heuser, 28, of 1680 Ray Road in Spring Lake, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 141 to 179 months in prison.

The plea spared Heuser from facing the death penalty.

Deputies found the remains of Harmony Jade Creech in her mother's attic on Oct. 20, 2007. The baby had been wrapped in a plastic bag and stuffed in an empty diaper box.

Heuser initially claimed the baby had been abducted, prompting a statewide Amber Alert. The baby's father, Sgt. Ronald Creech II, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, had returned from a 15-month deployment in Iraq at the time of the incident.

When confronted by investigators after the remains were found, Heuser told them that she found the child dead in her crib between Aug. 31, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2007. She said she feared being blamed for the death, so she made up the kidnapping story, even knocking a screen out of the window of the nursery to create the appearance of a break-in.

The baby's body was so badly decomposed that medical examiners have never been able to determine a cause of death. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch noted that the baby's medical history included neglect, but she said her examination of the remains "does not differentiate death from a natural disease process, such as pneumonia or SIDS or from a non-traumatic external means, such as asphyxia."

Ann Ross, a forensic anthropologist at North Carolina State University, also examined the remains and also couldn't find a cause of death. Still, she said she believed the probable cause was chronic starvation.

Radisch said her findings were inconclusive as to whether the baby was malnourished or starved.

Harnett County District Attorney Susan Doyle said in a statement that she agreed to the plea deal because of the uncertainty regarding the cause of the baby's death. Creech agreed to the plea agreement, Doyle said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • dwr1964 Dec 8, 2010

    Mugu....there are so many things you don't see. Probably never say a diploma either.

  • Scare Crow Dec 7, 2010

    This woman has three other children who were seriously under-fed. They are all in foster care. The father is in and out of prison. She and the army sargent are not married. She is bi-polar (if that is the way you spell it)and so is her mother. She has a very dark side, very dark. She has been investigated by the FBI, thus the long delay in a trial date. These are facts, and yes there is a lot of evidence to put her in prison. This is always the quick and easy way to close the case. Glad she is in the big house and serves the full sentence.

  • josephlawrence43 Dec 6, 2010

    Mugu--its called circumstantial evidence--a dead baby, placed in a plastic bag inside a box in the attic of the mothers home--father is pulling a tour in Iraq--nobody else around who was with the baby that much. People have been convicted of 1st degree murder on a whole lot less evidence.

  • michealtwarren Dec 6, 2010

    141-179 months= 12-15 years

  • Mugu Dec 6, 2010

    Without a cause of death, I see no ground to charge her.

  • saywhaaaaat Dec 6, 2010

    How can someone take a miracle so precious AND just literally throw it away? People that are blessed with this miracle just take it for granted. IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR CHILD.....PUT HIM/HER UP FOR ADOPTION....TRUST ME! someone out there will give him/her the loving they deserve.. :(

  • BigUNCFan Dec 6, 2010


    because there are juries that would let her off and it would be expensive to try her and take a long time and may have multiple trials with hung juries, etc. This way you are assured a conviction and that most likely she will serve time during her child bearing years and not have another kid and do this again.

    Some time that is for sure to be served is better in a lot of cases than a very real chance of getting completely off with a sympathetic jury, no cause of death, painting the mother as overwhelmed, etc.

  • grayboomerang Dec 6, 2010

    I will never understand these people. No one forces you to be a parent. There are many forms of birth control on the market. If you have no desire to be a parent, don't. Such senseless cruelty.

  • annemarek Dec 6, 2010

    It amuses me that most posts want this woman crucified. The public claims to love children and are outraged when a child is hurt or murdered. I say children are so loved. Whenever there are budget crunches they cut school budgets. The public seems to support abortion and scream “woman’s rights”. Now we have a situation where a child dies we want retribution and hang the “guilty”. I have no idea what happened where this child died other than the young woman took a plea deal. To me this does not mean guilty. Does anyone know the real story?

  • dwr1964 Dec 6, 2010

    Nothing but death will ever be enough punishment for this type of crime. How they can let her off with 11 years is sickening.