US trainee nun 'smothered her newborn child in convent'

Generic photo of Catholic nuns Poverty is one of the vows nuns take in their religious communities

A trainee Catholic nun has appeared in court charged with killing her newborn child at a convent in Washington DC.

Sosefina Amoa was ordered to be held without bail, according to the US Attorney's office.

The 26-year-old is accused of first-degree murder in the smothering death of her infant son.

She told police she had not informed the convent of her past sexual activity and feared the nuns would hear the boy's cries.

Ms Amoa was arrested on Wednesday and arraigned in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Friday, according to US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia spokesman Bill Miller.

'Tragic situation'

She will next appear in court on 23 October, Mr Miller added.

Ms Amoa arrived from Samoa on 5 October and sought to be admitted to the Catholic order. Her immigration status is not clear.

According to court documents, Ms Amoa gave birth on 10 October in a room at the Little Sisters of the Poor elderly care facility.

She told investigators she feared the nuns would discover the birth. She said she smothered the infant, named Joseph, with a wool garment, according to the authorities.

A day later, she informed a nun at the convent of the child.

The unnamed nun allegedly found the child cold and not breathing, and transported the body in a luggage bag to a local hospital along with Ms Amoa, court documents state.

"We all feel that this is a tragic situation," Sister Constance Veit, communications director of Little Sisters of the Poor, told the Associated Press news agency.

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