Police: Award-winning teacher kills baby, self


Wednesday, July 28, 2004 Posted: 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Michigan (AP) -- A woman who was honored this spring as teacher of the year killed her 5-week-old daughter and then herself after battling the type of depression that comes with childbirth, officials said.

Daniel Moffitt found the body of his 37-year-old wife, Mary Ellen Moffitt, on the couple's bed Monday. Police say she killed herself, apparently by putting a plastic bag over her head. The baby, Caroline, was found on the couch, tightly wrapped in a blanket and also dead of asphyxiation.

"It's horrific," police detective Thomas Hannon said. "What else can you say?"

Moffitt had been undergoing treatment for postpartum depression, police said. Police were waiting for toxicology reports from autopsies conducted Tuesday.

In May, the East Detroit School District named her teacher of the year. She taught first grade at Crescentwood Elementary in Eastpointe.

"She told me how happy she was about having her first baby," school board member Corrinne Harper said. "She said she was looking forward to having the baby -- she didn't even want to know what sex it was because she wanted it to be a surprise."

Dara Knill, president of the East Detroit teachers union, recalled Moffitt as "a very upbeat person ... just the kind of gal you could always approach."

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