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Oregon mom suspected of throwing autistic boy off bridge is charged

Mom accused of throwing her 6-year-old son off bridge in Oregon apparently blogged about challenges of autism

An Oregon woman who appears to have written online about the stress of taking care of her autistic son and ailing husband is suspected of throwing her 6-year-old boy to his death from a bridge and then calling police to report it, authorities said Tuesday. 

The mother, 34-year-old Jillian Meredeth McCabe of Seal Rock, was arraigned on murder charges Tuesday afternoon, according to a clerk at the Lincoln County Courthouse.

She faces four felony counts -- aggravated murder, murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter -- in the death of her son, London Grey McCabe, according to court documents.

About 6:25 p.m. Monday, a woman called 911, identifying herself as Jillian McCabe, the Newport Police Department said. "I just threw my son over the Yaquina Bay Bridge," McCabe told the dispatcher, according to court documents.

By the time police arrived, McCabe was still on her cellphone talking to the dispatcher, court documents said.

Local authorities responded and closed the bridge, and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter began searching for the boy. Law enforcement officials found McCabe's car parked on the northern end of the bridge and found her on the bridge, according to the affidavit filed Tuesday. McCabe told a sheriff's deputy that she'd thrown her son off about mid-span.

When authorities contacted McCabe's husband, Matthew McCabe, he confirmed that his son was last with Jillian. London "is never left with other people" because of his autism, Matthew McCabe told authorities.

About 10:30 p.m., police said, searchers spotted the boy’s body in the water about a mile inland, near the Embarcadero Resort.

A Newport police officer later reported he had been heading north over the bridge about half a hour before the 911 call and saw someone matching Jillian McCabe's description carrying a young boy near the mid-span of the bridge, the affidavit said. According to the affidavit, the officer thought "it seemed odd," because the child seemed too big to be carried.

McCabe was arrested and is being held on $1-million bail, court officials said. She has been appointed an attorney.

McCabe appears to be the author of a post on a crowdfunding website about the stresses of taking care of London, who was autistic, and her husband, who she said had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an experience she called "a “lonely and emotionally draining situation.”

“I am taking care of our son London and now Matt full-time…I am applying for any and all assistance available,” she wrote in 2013, adding that the family’s medical expenses and financial instability had her “scared.” She asked friends and family to contribute to fundraisers and an Amazon wish list to assist them.

“I love my husband and he has taken care of myself and my son for years and years and now it's time for me to take the helm,” she continued. “I am scared and I am reaching out.”

Rob Gorski, a fellow blogger who had posted McCabe’s plea to his website, acknowledged her son’s passing in a post Tuesday.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I share with you this morning that the body of London McCabe, a 6-year-old with autism, was found in the waters near the Yaquina Bay Bridge,” Gorski wrote. “The world lost a beautiful soul and he will be missed by everyone his young life had touched.”

Gorski says he was friends with both Jillian and her husband, Matt, but had not been in touch with them since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“The McCabes, they’re good people,” Gorski told the Los Angeles Times by phone Tuesday. “This is not something that I would have ever seen happening.” Gorski, whose three children are autistic and whose wife suffers from chronic illness, says he is familiar with the stress Jillian McCabe was facing.

“You get isolated, you get helpless feeling, you get depressed, and you get desperate,” Gorski said. Gorski told The Times that the McCabes first reached out to him a few years ago, after he’d written about a crime outbreak in his neighborhood that made him fear for his family’s safety.

Matt McCabe set up an online fundraiser to help Gorski's family move out of the neighborhood. Although the website only raised about $1,000 and the family was unable to leave, Gorski said it was a "kind gesture from someone I hadn't known until then." Later, Jillian would make “bath bombs” that came in different bright colors and scents, shipping them by the dozens to his house so his children, who hated bath time, could enjoy them.

“The McCabes are good people and that makes this so difficult to understand,” Gorski wrote, adding, “the Jillian I know is a loving mother/wife.”

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

4:32 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information about McCabe's arraignment and additional details from court documents.

This story was originally published at 11:58 a.m.

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