Melissa Drexler (born 1978) is an American who delivered a baby in a restroom stall at her high school prom and put the body in the trash, before returning to the dance. Drexler pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter, and was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. After serving nearly 37 months, she was released on parole.
Drexler attended Lacey Township High School in the Forked River section of Lacey Township, New Jersey. Over the course of nearly nine months, she kept her pregnancy secret from the baby's father, her parents and classmates. Five feet seven inches tall, and weighing 60 kg (130 pounds), she apparently showed no signs of her pregnancy. On June 6, 1997, Drexler gave birth in a toilet stall at her senior prom. She then retrieved the baby from the toilet bowl, cut the umbilical cord on the serrated edge of a sanitary napkin dispenser, wrapped the baby in several garbage sacks, and deposited the bundle in a trash can. She then returned to the dance floor.
The baby was discovered by a janitor who responded to reports of blood in the restroom and who became suspicious of the weight of the trash bag. Emergency workers attempted to resuscitate the baby for two hours. Originally charged with murder, Drexler pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter on August 20, 1998, and Judge John A. Ricciardi sentenced her to 15 years in prison, the maximum penalty. On November 26, 2001, she was released on parole after serving a little over three years. Drexler was nicknamed the "The Prom Mom" by the American media.
The Nickelback song "Throw Yourself Away", which appeared on their 2003 album The Long Road, is about Drexler. The case, along with that of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, also inspired the Family Guy musical number Prom Night Dumpster Baby in the episode Airport '07.
In The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, Thomas Hine uses Drexler's case to embody "the grotesque consequences of the teenage mystique", or the harm from qualities associated with teenagers.
- Smothers, Ronald (August 21, 1998). "Guilty Plea By Mother, 20, In Prom Death". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Lima, Paulo (24 November 2001). "Prom night baby-killer to be freed from prison". The Bergen County Record. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Barron, James (June 10, 1997). "Decision Whether to Charge Prom Mother Awaits Tests". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Associated Press (21 August 1998). "Melissa Drexler avoids a trial. She could receive up to 15 years for aggravated manslaughter". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Fatal Beauty: 15 Most Notorious Women, E! Network, June 6, 2009.
- "Metro News Briefs: New Jersey; New Trial Site Wanted In Prom Baby Death". The New York Times. January 7, 1998. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Hine, Thomas (2000). The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager. HarperCollins. pp. 12–15. ISBN 9780380728534.