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Virginia Mother of 10 Sentenced to the Max for Killing Infant Son. Prosecutors Compared Baby’s Injuries to Having ‘Fallen Several Stories.’


Julia L. Tomlin

A 37-year-old mother in Virginia effectively received a life sentence for killing her own 2-year-old son, before stuffing his body in an empty diaper box and tossing it in the trash. Chief Hampton Circuit Court Judge Michael Gaten on Monday handed down the maximum sentence to Julia L. Tomlin, ordering her to serve a 55 years in prison for the horrific 2019 murder of young Noah Tomlin, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, Tomlin in December 2021 formally pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree murder, felony child neglect, and concealing of a dead body in connection with her son’s death. Following her admission of guilt, Hampton’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell noted that Tomlin’s plea was not part of a deal with prosecutors, emphasizing that prosecutors would still be seeking the maximum 55-year sentence.

Under Virginia law, the  maximum sentence for second degree murder is 40 years. The maximum for felony child neglect is 10 years, and the maximum for concealing a dead body is five years. Gaten ordered Tomlin to serve the harshest sentence for all three crimes consecutively.

A mother of 10, Tomlin lost custody of her other nine children following Noah’s grisly death. Prosecutors said the infant’s injuries were so severe that it was “as if a child had fallen several stories” off of a building, Norfolk CBS affiliate WTKR reported. Authorities have not divulged details about the extent of Noah’s injuries, but when questioned about specifics, Bell previously told reporters to “imagine a baby with no arms, no limbs, and only a few strands of hair from his head.”

Tomlin initially reported her son missing at approximately 11:35 a.m. on June 24, 2019. She reportedly told police she woke up in her trailer on Atlantic Avenue in the Bayside Village Mobile Home Park and the boy had vanished. Tomlin reportedly said she had last seen the child when she put him in bed at around 1 a.m. the previous night.

The toddler’s remains were discovered 10 days later, on July 3, 2019, stuffed in a cardboard “Huggies” box at a trash incinerator site. Law enforcement authorities said the body was in “an advanced state” of decomposition, but it was clear that the baby had suffered “horrific and severe” injuries. In fact, the police officer who discovered the body reportedly testified at a probable cause hearing that the sight and smell of the remains were so graphic and disturbing that he had to leave the scene.

Investigators executed a search warrant on Tomlin’s home and reportedly found Noah’s blood on the walls of the bedroom, as well as on sheets and a baby shirt pulled from the trash. Following the discovery of Noah’s body, Tomlin reportedly claimed that she was high on heroin and accidentally left Noah in the tub where he drowned. She claimed she attempted to revive him with CPR but was unable to do so. She then put him in the diaper box, wrapped it with garbage bags and asked a friend ignorant of what was inside to throw it away.

But an autopsy conducted by the Hampton Coroner’s Office reportedly did not comport with Tomlin’s story, concluding that Noah’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma and battered child syndrome. The medical examiner hired a forensic anthropologist to assist with the investigation because investigators “only had a fully recognizable left leg and liver when first examining the toddler,” the Daily Press reported.

Following the release of the autopsy results, Bell called a news conference during which he said the long-term abuse Noah suffered was tantamount to “torture.”

“The type of injury this child suffered was as if a child had fallen several stories,” Bell reportedly said. “His abuse was of such a nature that his bones stopped growing. There was evidence of that.”

[image via 13News Now screenshot]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.