Dead baby’s mom waives extradition in Maine court; Arkansas authorities to try couple in infant’s death

This story was published on June 11, 2002 on Page B4 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND – Arkansas authorities are now free to bring a nomadic couple back to that state from Maine to face trial in the death of their infant daughter.

Krissy Werntz, 22, waived extradition in District Court Monday. She and the baby’s father, Jason Hann, 27, face first-degree murder charges in Arkansas, where the body of their daughter, Montana, was found in an abandoned camper.

Arkansas State Police said they would pick up the two this week.

Both had initially declined to waive extradition. Hann changed his mind last week, and Werntz followed suit.

The couple followed a gypsylike lifestyle, traversing the country and staying in motels and campgrounds before their wandering came to an end April 22, when a Motel 6 clerk alerted police. The two were wanted in Arkansas but several other states became involved as investigators reconstructed their travels.

Werntz and Hann became wanted in Arkansas in February after storage fees for their camper went unpaid. The camper was sold at auction and the buyer found Montana’s body in a plastic container.

Vermont officials also charged Hann with murder for fatally beating an infant son named Jason in Shelburne in 1999. According to court documents, Hann told Maine authorities he did not seek medical attention for the boy after slamming his head against the crib because he feared he and Werntz were wanted on an outstanding fraud charge in Tennessee.

Jason died several days later, and the couple carried his body with them for 18 months before leaving it in another trailer outside Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

A third infant, also named Jason, was with the couple when they were arrested in Portland. That child, nicknamed “Baby Jason,” is now in foster care as Werntz’s mother and aunt seek custody.

Child welfare officials in Indiana will conduct a background check on the relatives before the Maine Department of Human Services makes its recommendation on the matter, said DHS spokesman Newell Augur.

Werntz and Hann did not fight placing the child in the state’s custody temporarily, but they have not forsaken their parental rights, Augur said. The boy suffers from shaken baby syndrome, including 11 broken ribs, a fractured femur, subdural hematoma, or blood under the brain’s lining, and hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain.

The 10-week-old boy is now at near-normal weight and size levels and his bones are mending, Augur said,

but the trauma of his first weeks of life may have serious developmental repercussions.