When police were called to an apartment in Weston, West Virginia days after Christmas 2022, they had no idea what they were walking into: a scene the criminal complaint describes as blood-covered following the death of a three-month-old girl. Now, the infant’s mother has been indicted for the murder, West Virginia Metro News reports.
Chief Deputy Cayton explained in the complaint that upon entering the apartment in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 2022, one woman sat on the couch with blood running excessively down her head and chest. Another woman knelt in front of the couch, holding a lifeless infant, also covered in blood. And in what must have been a chilling moment, he spotted a bloody butcher knife on the chair next to the couch.
The criminal complaint, obtained by West Virginia Metro News, explains that at about 7:31 a.m. on Friday, December 30, 2022, a woman named Jessica Kirkpatrick called 911 on behalf of her neighbor’s mother, Lorrie Clevenger, and informed the dispatcher that there was “blood all over the apartment and a three (3) month old baby is dead.” Kirkpatrick added that Krista Brunecz, the infant’s 32-year-old mother, was the resident of the apartment.
Police responded to Weston Arbors Apartments at approximately 7:44 that morning, the complaint says. Brunecz and the baby were rushed to Stonewall Hospital, where officers followed up to discover that the infant had been pronounced dead at 8:14 a.m., the complaint continues. Upon collected the infant’s clothing, he “observed several holes in the shirt and the chest area of (LS) that appeared to be inflicted be a knife.”
Brunecz was treated for “self-inflicted stab wounds” and then transferred to Ruby Hospital for further treatment, the complaint adds.
An officer interviewed Brunecz’s mother, Lorrie Clevenger, according to the complaint. They discovered that at about 7:12 a.m., Brunecz allegedly sent a photo to her mother of her and the infant, identified only as LS. Blood is running down Brunecz’s head and chest area, while LS appears lifeless in her mother’s arms with blood around her head. Blood is apparently also visible on the back and arm of LS.
The complaint also describes how, on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, the same officer interviewed the nurse practitioner at Stonewall Memorial Hospital who cared for Brunecz. When the nurse practitioner asked Brunecz what happened, Brunecz stated that she had “stabbed her baby, then herself.”
Brunecz told her no one else was involved, the complaint says. The nurse practitioner said she asked the woman three times if she had done this, and each time, Brunecz replied “yes.” When asked if she intended to kill her baby, Brunecz also answered “yes.” She gave the same reply when the nurse practitioner asked if Brunecz intended to kill herself, too.
The following day, the officer attended the infant’s autopsy, according to the complaint. The medical examiner informed the officer that the heart and both lungs of the baby “had been pierced by the knife used in this incident,” and confirmed several stab wounds to the child’s chest was the cause of death.
Infant’s father claims Brunecz had postpartum psychosis
Back in February, the infant’s father, who remained unnamed to West Virginia Metro News, spoke out about Brunecz and her mental condition leading up to the alleged murder.
He explained that the couple had been together for a year, Metro reports. They planned on moving the week of the infant’s death. Brunecz had been to her doctor the day before and received a prescription medication for depression and anxiety. Two days before the incident, she had gone to the Stonewall Memorial Hospital ER to receive help, and had the baby with her.
Six days before the murder, the infant’s father said, Brunecz wasn’t acting like herself, Metro states.
“She wasn’t the same person I knew. She was slipping into a very dark place. She was hearing voices. She couldn’t sleep. She knew something was wrong,” he told the outlet.
But the symptoms hadn’t been present earlier in December, he added.
“She had no symptoms before Christmas. It hit her really fast. She was slipping into psychosis is what I really believe. She was acting bizarre,” he explained, adding that Brunecz was on suicide watch at the time of the interview.
He revealed that he doesn’t think Brunecz was diagnosed properly, and doesn’t know if her medications had anything to do with the alleged murder, Metro reports. He described the night before the infant’s death when Brunecz apparently broke up with him.
“She said she didn’t want to be with me anymore, that I wasn’t being supportive enough. She was scaring me. It was like she was in psychosis already. I never seen her like that before,” he said.
He drove home that night, only to hear of his daughter’s death the next morning, Metro states. He said he hadn’t spoken to Brunecz since she was hospitalized. In retrospection, he told the reporter that Brunecz loved their daughter.
“She was definitely wanting a girl. We were both really happy. She was the most beautiful girl. We were just at my family’s for Christmas Eve. In just one day, she fell into a dark place very quickly,” he explained.
“Krista is a victim of this illness. She was very sick. She’s not a murderer,” he added.
Metro reported on July 11, 2023 that a grand jury indicted Brunecz for one count of murder and one count of death of a child by parent by child abuse.
Her arraignment hearing was scheduled for July 14, according to WV News, but it was continued after the judge concluded that Brunecz’s competency and criminal responsibility in the crime have not been determined yet.
Metro adds that Brunecz is being held in North Central Regional Jail without bail.