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When a mother stands accused of killing her own child, it triggers deep confusion and anger -- a morbid fascination that can feed a media frenzy.

Witness the public outrage following the acquittal of Casey Anthony, the Florida mom who'd been accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. Millions of people found themselves emotionally invested in the lives of complete strangers.

In May, when McKinleyville mom Claudia Parker Pedreros allegedly confessed to drowning her own 2-year-old daughter Sophia in the Trinity River, a similar horror hit home. Initial reports on May 20 listed Sophia as merely missing. Her mom, an expatriate from Chile, was found walking naked down a highway near the river. Humboldt and Trinity county sheriff's officers began a frenzied search and circulated a photo of the toddler in denim overalls, her dark eyes staring into the camera, chubby cheeks framed by curly black locks as she smeared green paint onto a piece of paper.

Sohpia's small, naked body was found the following day, tangled in submerged vegetation near the riverbank. During a two-hour interview with law enforcement, including FBI agents, Claudia allegedly confessed to holding her daughter underwater while reciting the Lord's Prayer, among other, conflicting stories. She was booked into the Trinity County jail, where she remains to this day.

Gradually, through interviews with Claudia's husband Robert Parker, law enforcement officials and her family members in Chile, a picture of Claudia Pedreros emerged -- that of a deeply troubled and lonely woman, socially isolated, fearful of her husband and likely suffering from postpartum depression, if not psychosis. According to an exhaustive Times-Standard report by Thadeus Greenson, Claudia had once fled to a neighbor's house where she compared living with her abusive husband and his elderly father to living in hell.

Through her lawyer, Pedreros pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. In October she was deemed competent to stand trial. Her next court date is scheduled for Jan. 24.

-- Ryan Burns


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About The Author

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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