Heidi Anfinson Granted Parole on Murder Charge After 14 Years

KCCI.com

Heidi Anfinson looks towards her defense attorney William Kutmus Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2000 during her retrial that was moved from Polk County, Iowa to Scott County, Iowa due to extensive publicty in Polk County. She is charged with drowning her infant son in a Des Moines, Iowa, lake. Anfinson's first-degree murder trial in September ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a unanimous decision on convicting her of second-degree murder. (AP Photo/Quad City Times, Larry Fisher)

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By Liz Blood

DES MOINES, Iowa - A Des Moines mother who was convicted of drowning her infant son asked for parole Wednesday.

Heidi Anfinson went before the Iowa Board of Parole Wednesday morning.

The board voted 3-0 in favor of parole for Anfinson.

Parole board members said they were confident Anfinson could be successfully released from prison, citing a report from the Department of Corrections and a letter from a judge involved in the case.

"We think she has a strong opportunity to succeed upon reentry into society," said Jason Carlstrom, a member of the Iowa Parole Board.

Anfinson said she was happy for all the support. She said she has a plan of action including a place to live and a job. She also plans to go back to school.

"I am ready to be a productive member of society," said Anfinson.

Anfinson's family said she could be released as soon as in 10 days, but they expect her to at least be out of prison by Thanksgiving.

Her parole period is through 2023. A restriction of her parole is that she not live with or work with children.

Anfinson and her family said they were relieved to hear parole had been granted.

"They won't regret granting her this parole because she was a good citizen before she had this problem and she will be a good citizen again," said Irv Hoffbauer, Anfinson's father.

Anfinson's 2-week-old son Jacob disappeared in 1998 and Anfinson later confessed to drowning Jacob and hiding him in Saylorville Lake.

She was convicted in the case and served nine years in prison before being granted a new trial and being released from prison.

Anfinson said she was suffering from severe postpartum depression.

"In hindsight, I believe I had postpartum psychosis, which at the time I didn't realize I was going through," said Anfinson during the hearing Wednesday.

A plea deal was reached to charges of child endangerment. The plea deal included a 50 year prison term.

Experts said the case helped bring the issue of postpartum depression to the attention of Iowans and the nation. Anfinson was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show to talk about the issue.

"It also led to a broader discussion of what postpartum was and what it means and what it doesn't mean and maybe made people aware," said attorney Bob Rigg. "It's tragic. When you look at this tragedy and if any good can come out of it at all, you hope it does."

Medical experts said everyone can help make sure similar cases never happen.

"Look out for moms just being teary, or not getting their sleep, not eating well. If they're feeling anxious to just let their physicians know," said Ronda Kaldenberg, a Mercy Medical Center RN.

Some hospitals, like Mercy, screen new moms to help them get help when they need it.

"Five years ago, we started a postpartum depression screening tool for our moms to fill out," said Kaldenberg.

"As part of our education, we let them know this is a very normal process that can occur and not to feel bad about it, to get help, to seek it early," said Kaldenberg.
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