The mother of a 9-week-old baby whose murder drew national attention last year committed suicide in a Sarasota jail Saturday, authorities said.
Kristen Bury, 33, was found unconscious shortly after midnight in her county jail cell, where she had been housed since she appeared at a court hearing with her husband, Joe Walsh, 37, days earlier.
Bury and her husband were arrested in October 2015 and charged with the murder of their newborn son, Chance Walsh, who was found buried in a remote area near their North Port home. According to court documents, Walsh beat the baby and then shoved a diaper wipe down his throat, choking him. They let his body decompose in his crib before burying him in a shallow grave and fleeing to South Carolina to start a new life.
A few weeks later, the family members became concerned about the baby’s welfare and called police. They said the couple told them that Chance died in a car accident, then later changed their story, saying they had given the baby away.
Bury eventually led authorities to the baby’s body, which was buried in a remote area near their home in North Port, about 30 miles south of Sarasota.
Walsh, who is awaiting trial on murder charges and faces life in prison if convicted, claimed that the couple were on drugs at the time of Chance’s death. Bury’s letters to her husband in jail detailed her effort to stop him from harming Chance, but claimed that she was afraid that Walsh would kill her.
In another macabre twist, sheriff’s deputies found an urn containing ashes in a backpack in the couple’s car at the time of their arrest. The ashes were the remains of another son, Duane, who had died in 2014 when he was 22 days old, authorities said.
Records show that the baby went into cardiac arrest while sleeping in bed with his parents. A medical examiner ruled that he died of kidney failure.
Family members went to court to obtain custody of the urn, and a hearing was held on Aug. 29 in Sarasota. Bury, who pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in January in exchange for testifying against her husband, had already started serving her 25-year prison term at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala.
While in the county jail last week for the hearing, she continued to write love letters to her husband, but they were intercepted by corrections officers, the Charlotte Sun reported.
The couple, who were brought into the same courtroom for the hearing, agreed to give Duane’s ashes to his paternal grandmother. Bury’s mother, Sally Susino, had requested that they go to her so she could bury his remains with Chance.
Susino had called her daughter a “monster,’’ who gave her first child up for adoption in exchange for a car. Despite her feelings, she was in grief over her daughter’s death.
“We are very saddened,” Susino said Tuesday.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office did not release details of how Bury was found or whether she left a note. The medical examiner has not yet released the autopsy.
“I would give anything to go back in time and change what happened,” Bury wrote the judge after her sentencing in January, adding: “One day I will see him in heaven.”