Some who know Nicole Lynn Plum thought she might be pregnant.
A classmate of Plum's said for some time before the death of Baby Chelsea, Plum would come to school wearing a big coat.
"She'd wear it all day, and then after Christmas break, she was wearing tight T-shirts again," said Courtney Draisey, a 10th-grader at South Tama High School, where Plum also attended. "I kind of knew she was pregnant, but then she'd tell some people she was, and others she wasn't."
Said Draisey's brother Brandon: "She always denied it, but you could almost tell she was, and she wore all these baggy clothes."
Uncertainty about the teen-ager's condition has turned to shock for many.
Plum, 17, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Baby Chelsea, an infant girl found Feb. 4 face down in the snow.
"After receiving information from the community, we followed up on it," said Assistant County Attorney Richard Vander Mey. "We believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Nicole Plum is the mother of this child."
Baby Chelsea was found by an area woman out walking her dog, and had been there "for a considerable amount of time," said Vander Mey.
Vander Mey said the state medical examiner listed the cause of death as strangulation and exposure, and noted some burns on the body, though they were not a cause of death.
Friends were saddened by the news, said Courtney Draisey. Plum is a popular girl who played for the South Tama junior varsity basketball team last year.
"I was in class with her, and she is really nice, " said Draisey.
"She's got friends," Draisey added, saying, "I feel really bad that she didn't have anyone to really tell about it."
After the initial discovery of Baby Chelsea, Plum's stepfather, Doug Horne said, "I haven't seen anyone, but [Nicki], saw a car down there on Wednesday. It's a shame something like that happened."
The body was found just east and down the street from Horne's house on 204 Second St.
Vander Mey said Plum is being held in a secure medical facility. Prosecutors issued a warrant for her arrest, which will be waiting for her when her stay is over.
"We'll defer to the staff there and won't take her into custody until they say she's ready to be released," he said.
Once in custody, Plum will appear before a judge. Vander Mey said she will be charged as an adult, though she can request to be tried as a juvenile.
With the news of the arrest comes little sense of relief, said Vander Mey.
"It's a disturbing case for all of the officers and people looking into it," he said.
"We're all feeling that sadness, and a determination to find out what happened."
Neighbor Helen Zeman lives on the same street as Plum's stepfather.
"I forgive her if she did this," she said. "I feel sorry for both her and her baby, who never had a chance."
Zeman said she'll be glad to see some closure for Baby Chelsea. "I expect she'll be buried up in our church cemetery," she said.
"Now I can go give her flowers sometimes."
Brandon Draisey said he feels a sense of both disbelief, and pity for Nicole, the "popular girl who was always out for all the activities."
"If she did do this," he said, "it was a really poor choice for someone who was that smart."