Oregon Mother Sentenced to Life in Prison for Throwing Six-Year-Old Autistic Son Off Bridge to His Death

Oregon Mother: Sentenced to Life in Prison for Throwing Autistic Son off Bridge
Jillian McCabe
Lincoln County Jail

02/23/2016 AT 05:25 PM EST

A mother who told police that "voices" told her to throw her 6-year-old autistic son off a bridge has been sentenced to life in prison for the child's 2014 murder.

On Tuesday, Jillian McCabe, 36, of Newport, Oregon, pleaded guilty to murder, Lincoln County District Attorney Michelle Branam says in a media release. As part of the plea agreement, she will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

At 6 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2014, McCabe drove her son, London McCabe, to the Yaquina Bay Bridge, walked him to the middle of the span and threw him over the railing into the frigid waters below before calling 911, Branam says.

McCabe had initially lifted the boy up to throw him over but changed her mind before finally pushing him over, says Branam. "She reports that she said only 'sorry' to him as she lifted him over," she adds.

The fall from the bridge, which stands 133 feet above the bay, did not kill the child, Branam says. He suffered broken bones from the impact of the fall then ultimately drowned, she says.

Hours after the boy's fall, emergency crews found his lifeless body about a mile from the bridge.

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Prosecutor: McCabe's Cell Phone Records 'Revealed Weeks of Planning'

McCabe's family said she had a mental breakdown after caring for her son and her husband, Matt McCabe, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Relatives say that McCabe had threatened to kill herself in February 2014 and was voluntarily admitted to a care facility because of a report that she was suicidal, Branam says.

After McCabe called 911, she told police that "voices told her to throw London over and to jump herself," Branam says.

"At first blush, the case appears to be a tragic story of a mentally ill mother who snapped," says Branam.

Upon further investigation, authorities "found that Jillian McCabe was very calculated in her planning of this homicide," she says.

"Everyone hopes it can be explained by way of mental illness so we don't have to leave open the possibility that a mother could plan to so horrifically murder her child," Branam says.

McCabe's cellphone history "revealed weeks of planning how she would murder her son," Branam says. "She planned how she would get away with it."

McCabe's plan included invoking an insanity defense and being committed to a state psychiatric hospital, says Branam.

Unbeknownst to McCabe's husband and family, who reported that they had never heard her talk about harming London, on Oct. 5, 2014, McCabe searched the Internet for information about stabbing, drowning and whether someone could "die falling in 133 ft. in water," which is the height of the bridge, Branam says in the release.

Calls to McCabe's attorney, Deborah Burdzik, were not immediately returned.
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