Report: Jessica Aldama died after stillborn delivery in homeless encampment

Jessica Aldama, a homeless woman who was found dead with her newborn this fall in a Boulder camp, has died of complications in childbirth, according to an autopsy released Tuesday. The baby was stillborn, according to the report, found in a blanket next to Aldama.

Aldama, 33, was found by Boulder police in a tent near Boulder Open Space on October 11. Police did not reveal that a baby was found with her until October 27, following media and community investigations.

The official cause of death has been listed as complications associated with stillbirth delivery.

“Shock and / or sepsis (infection of the blood) was the most likely complication leading to her death,” reads the autopsy, “because women who gave birth to stillbirth are 14 times more likely than women to die. women with a live birth to go into shock or develop sepsis. “


So far, all information has come from the police department, via the Boulder Daily Camera.

Officers reported that they initially encountered the then pregnant Aldama in an encampment on September 9 and transported her to the Clinica Family Health People’s Clinic. Officers met her again two weeks later, according to their reports, and transported her again to the People’s Clinic, where a provider referred her to Boulder Community Health.

City officials have refused to release police reports associated with Aldama until the coroner’s report is finalized. On Wednesday, a report from the September 9 meeting revealed that officers fined Aldama and a male companion for camping on public property and owning a tent – something that was not mentioned in the official account given to the media and members of the public.

Aldama was fined $ 50 and appeared in court on September 21, according to an image of the ticket included in the report.

Boulder City Council banned tents on public property in late July, via an emergency vote. The developers argued that it would be easier to prevent camping on public lands; advocates for homeless people feared this would further disrupt the lives of people living on the streets and make them less likely to trust the system or seek services.

Several studies support these claims. In a 2019 review of previously published research, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development wrote: “The literature and key informants, however, agree that encampment sweeps do little to increase shelter use or otherwise resolve the problem of encampments. … Especially in communities with many low visibility locations, people are likely to just pack their bags and move to another location… or re-establish encampment on the old site once the city has cleared the area .

A man, who has said he has been waiting for a housing list for a long time and is ready to work, is seen at an encampment on the way to Boulder Creek on April 28, 2021. (Derek Miles for Colorado Newsline)

The post shows that Aldama was in Martin Park, near US 36 and Eastman Avenue in South Boulder. His body was discovered a month later in an encampment near 5847 Arapahoe Ave., about three miles away.

City spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said on Wednesday the police department had concluded its investigation into Aldama’s death.

“In light of the coroner’s report, the Boulder Police Department has closed its inquest into the deaths of Jessica Aldama and her baby, finding no criminal aspect involved,” Huntley said in a statement. “The family asked that we not discuss his death, and we will respect their wishes.”

Huntley also declined to answer questions about police interactions with Aldama prior to his death.

Public counts of the homeless population in Boulder County do not reveal how many pregnant women are homeless. Providers say there are several each year who live on the streets or enter an emergency shelter.

Aldama’s baby is the third reported fetal death among homeless people in Boulder County since 2014, when the coroner’s office began tracking deaths of homeless residents. Several factors that increase the risk of stillbirth and / or maternal complications are exacerbated by homelessness, including lack of access to antenatal care and discrimination within the health system itself.

A seven-year study in Massachusetts found that pregnant women without housing “were more than twice as likely to have a complication affecting their health during childbirth and almost twice as likely to have early labor. or threatened or hemorrhaging during pregnancy ‘that pregnant women housed people.

Drug use, another risk factor for stillbirth, was not cited as a factor in Aldama’s death. The autopsy notes Aldama’s history of “unspecified drug addiction” and drug paraphernalia was found at the scene.

“I’m not saying Jessica was not to blame for her predicament,” Diane Boatman, a family friend who was previously homeless herself, said at a Nov. 4 memorial for Aldama and her baby. “But she needed help. We haven’t done enough. This community has not done enough.

“They have baby blood on their hands. “

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