Mom accused of setting baby afire held on $500K bail
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey woman accused of dousing her newborn daughter with accelerant, setting her on fire and leaving her in the middle of a road said little in her first court appearance Tuesday, appearing on video to answer to a murder charge.
Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier, 22, was read the charge by Superior Court Judge Philip Haines. He maintained her $500,000 bail, which was set after police found the baby in flames Friday night in the middle of a Pemberton Township road and arrested the woman.
Dorvilier was found with a can of WD-40 and a lighter in her jacket pocket; the baby had third-degree burns over about 60 percent of her body, investigators said in court documents released by Burlington County prosecutors Tuesday.
The judge said the alleged crime is in the "high range of seriousness, without a doubt."
Dorvilier said she was planning to hire a private attorney.
Haines said that if she were to post bail, she would not be released until a psychiatric evaluation was presented to the court.
When the infant was found, it still had the umbilical cord and placenta attached, investigators said. Prosecutors haven't specified a motive.
There was no answer at the two-story yellow house where Dorvilier lived with her mother and sister on a quiet suburban street in Pemberton, a town of about 28,000.
Police were responding to a call about a fire on the road in the township, about 30 miles east of Philadelphia. When they arrived, they found a neighbor holding Dorvilier down on the ground and the baby wrapped in a smoldering towel and paper, according to the court documents.
"The defendant was interrupted in the act of committing the crime," Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Jim Ronca said.
The baby was alive and breathing when she was flown to a hospital in Philadelphia, but died two hours later, authorities say.
Dave Joseph, who discovered the burning baby and held Dorvilier down, told police the woman said the baby wasn't hers. Police said they found a trail of blood leading from Dorvilier's home and she appeared to be bleeding while at the hospital afterward.
Her mother and sister told police they were not aware of her giving birth, but police said they found blood on the floor of the downstairs bathroom.
Joseph said the woman told him she was burning dog waste.
"It was just mind-boggling," Joseph told the Burlington County Times. "It was a nightmare even if you have a strong heart."
A candlelight vigil was scheduled for Wednesday night at Browns Mills United Methodist Church. A funeral service for the baby is planned for Monday at the church.