Chattanooga woman charged with first-degree murder after premature twins die

Tiffany Marie Roberts
photo Tiffany Marie Roberts

A Chattanooga woman has been charged with first-degree murder after her premature twins died as a result of her repeated illegal drug use, Chattanooga police say.

Tiffany Marie Roberts, 29, arrived at a local hospital for a checkup on June 27 and again on Saturday, according to Hamilton County court records. Both times, she tested positive for multiple narcotics, including cocaine and oxycodone.

On Sunday, Roberts told police she was "experiencing shortness of breath" after taking an ecstasy pill and went to the hospital where she tested positive for the drug, court records state.

Roberts was "immediately prepped for emergency labor," according to court records, and gave birth to her twins on Saturday at 23 weeks pregnant. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.

In general, infants "born at 23 weeks of gestation should be considered potentially viable," according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. That's because just over a quarter of those babies survive with intense treatment.

Both of Roberts' infants tested positive for "several narcotics," including cocaine, at the time of birth, court records state.

The next day, on Monday, Roberts publicly posted photos of the infants - both girls - to Facebook, saying, "Bless these beautiful babies girls came early but they gonna be strong."

Both died Tuesday - two days after being born. The cause of death was pulmonary hemorrhage, or acute bleeding from the lung, for both, court records state.

Investigators noted that Roberts tested positive for multiple narcotics on three different days throughout her pregnancy, including cocaine, oxycodone, roxicodone, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines, court records show.

Roberts admitted to using the drugs, noting she "has a problem."

Based on her illegal drug use over the course of her pregnancy, Roberts was charged with aggravated child abuse or neglect, first-degree murder and viable fetus as a victim.

She was booked at the Hamilton County Jail, where her bond has been set at $1 million.

After initial congratulations, Roberts' Facebook posts have been flooded with angry commenters.

"I miscarried a year ago this time and now we cannot get pregnant and this s--- is a slap in the face to women who can't get pregnant or have complications!!" one woman wrote.

Another woman, who identified herself as Roberts' sister, pleaded for people not to judge Roberts.

"[You] have no idea what she has been through and i promise its more than u could ever fathom," the woman wrote. "[Y]es she has a drug problem yes she needs help ... God knows her heart and thats all matters she didnt [sic] intentionally kill the girls she has had a serious problem since grade school and she has lived in the streets her whole life and even her childhood ... its all she knows."

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