An unlicensed midwife who billed herself as a “birthing professional” has been charged with homicide after unsuccessfully attempting to help a pregnant woman give birth to her breech daughter. Angela Hock, 36, was booked into the Douglas County Jail in Nebraska on Wednesday and charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death, online records show.
Hock, who worked with a group called Nebraska Birth Keeper, had been hired by Emily Noe, 25, to help with a home birth on June 15, according to an affidavit filed in Douglas County and obtained by the Omaha World-Herald. Paramedics were called to Noe’s home that night, and when they arrived, found Noe on her hands and knees and Hock holding the partially-delivered baby girl.
Noe told police that Hock had told her she’d had training on how to deliver breech babies, but eventually advised her to call police once she’d delivered the baby up to her shoulders and realized she would be unable to do the rest, according to the affidavit.
The new mom and her daughter were both taken to the Nebraska Medical Center, and the baby was delivered en route by rescue squad personnel.
According to the affidavit, the baby was not breathing, was limp and had no pulse. She was put on life support in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, where she died two days later. Dr. Katherine Lessman, the obstetrician-gynecologist on call at the hospital, said in the affidavit that the baby, named Vera, suffered brain swelling because she had been without oxygen.
Lessman also noted that she believed the birth was handled “negligently,” and because of that, Vera died a preventable death. According to ABC News, doctors said the baby had been without oxygen for approximately 10 to 12 minutes during Hock’s delivery attempt.
“[Hock] placed the child in a situation that endangered her life … and deprived [her] of necessary medical care,” Deputy County Attorney Molly Keane told the Omaha World-Herald. “Her actions in doing so resulted in the death of this child.”
Noe and her husband Crayton Noe paid Hock somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 for her services, according to investigators, despite the fact that she was confirmed not to hold any medical or certified nurse midwife license with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, according to the affidavit.
Crayton penned an emotional Facebook note following the death of his daughter, writing, “She didn’t feel any pain and she was so peaceful … We are strong but this hurts so much.”
“Vera will never be forgotten,” he added. Hock writes on the Nebraska Birth Keeper website that she started the company in 2017 after first launching her career as a “birth professional” in 2004.
She says she discovered her “calling to help women find their power and ancient wisdom through traditional midwifery” after attending births as a doula in 2013, and currently possesses “knowledge in many birthing techniques.”
Hock is married with four children, according to her website. It was unclear if she had retained an attorney to speak on her behalf. ABC News reports she turned herself in on Tuesday, and is awaiting a court appearance. She could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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