Michele Kalina handmade scarf
Michele Kalina handmade scarf
A WOMAN who said she secretly gave birth to five babies in her bathtub and hid the bodies in a closet pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to the maximum 20 to 40 years in prison.
Four of the babies were still-born but the third born, a boy, had moved. That death was the basis for the one count of murder.
Michele Kalina, 46, of Pennsylvania, conceived the babies through a long affair with a co-worker and hid the pregnancies from him and her husband. She told a psychiatrist she had wrapped each baby with a towel and then stored the body in a tub or container in a locked closet.
She thought four were "essentially stillborn" and denied doing anything "malicious", testified Dr Jerome Gottlieb, a defence psychiatrist.
"She (said she) might have wrapped the baby too tightly with a towel so that the baby couldn't breathe," Dr Gottlieb said.
That boy's body was then encased in cement and stored with the others, in a cooler, tub or cardboard box, in a closet. The five bodies decomposed for years until her teenage daughter found the skeletal remains last year. By then, authorities could not determine how the babies had died.
Kalina, a home-health aide, also pleaded guilty today to five counts each of abuse of a corpse and concealing a child's death.
Dr Gottlieb described her as an alcoholic who was intoxicated during the births and does not fully recall what took place. She also suffers from severe depression and other mental-health issues, he said.
Public defender Holly Feeney sought leniency on grounds that Kalina had learned to deny reality as she endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child. Dr Gottlieb suggested she put memories of the babies in a "psychological closet", much as she put their remains in a physical one.
Jeffrey Kalina, 54, a disabled stay-at-home father for much of their 25-year marriage, testified that he still loves his wife and would have raised the lover's children had he known about them.
"Sure, of course. Day One. Moment One," he said.
Throughout questioning, he said their marriage had not been sexual in 18 years, and said he had not seen his wife naked during that time, when she carried babies to full- or nearly full-term births.
Only once, in 2003, did he suspect his wife might be pregnant, but his daughter rejected the idea.
Kalina went on to deliver that baby at a Reading hospital. She told the staff she was separated and gave the girl up for adoption. DNA tests show the girl is also the lover's child.
Kalina had gone to Albright College for three semesters before getting married in 1986, at age 19.
The couple's first child, Andrew, was born the next year but suffered from cerebral palsy and serious developmental delays. Jeffrey Kalina blamed the problems on "a bad delivery." Michele Kalina cared for the boy at home for seven years, before her husband was laid off and became the caregiver to Andrew and their daughter Elizabeth, who was born in 1991. Andrew died of natural causes in 2000.
Kalina sometimes worked 70 hours a week or more to support the family, Jeffrey Kalina said.
She started the affair with a co-worker in 1996 and became pregnant that year. He declined to testify or attend today's hearing, and has not returned calls for comment left at his Reading-area home. According to Dr Gottlieb, he at one point refused Kalina's request to use condoms during their affair.
Included is the handmade scarf, a handwritten letter in which Michele talks about the scarf, and the original box Michele sent it in.