Florida police officers are searching for a woman who abandoned a one-day-old child on a stranger’s doorstep over the weekend, along with a note describing a serious domestic violence situation between the newborn’s parents.
The Orlando Police Department launched an investigation after Althea Brown and her family were alerted by neighbors to the infant wrapped in a T-shirt at their Arnold Palmer Drive home on the morning of July 20.
It is against the law to abandon a newborn—not more than a week old—anywhere other than at a fire station, a hospital, or an emergency medical service station, according to Florida’s Safe Haven laws.
According to the laws, a newborn left anywhere other than facilities recognized by the state laws, will be considered “abandoned” and will be “subject to reporting and investigation requirements.”
Speaking to Fox Carolina, Brown said she was already on her way to work when a neighbor called her to say they heard a baby crying.
She said she didn’t know who had left the newborn on her doorstep.
“It’s incomprehensible to me,” she said. “I don’t know if it was a neighbor… or if it was just somebody that decided to use this place as their escape.”
The newborn was brought to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children by officers, and although the infant appeared to be in good health, police said he could have died, reported ABC 13.
Police said detectives were investigating a note left with the infant which described a fearful domestic violence situation, which pointed towards the newborn’s mother being in danger.
Sgt. Eduardo Bernal said he wouldn’t discuss the note in detail in case the mother is put at risk.
“We’re not going to specifically talk about a note being part of this case,” he said. “But we are looking into all the circumstances with that.”
He added that the mother could face charges for child neglect.
“In more serious cases where injury comes to the baby or death, it could be aggravated manslaughter. It’s very serious,” Bernal told Click Orlando.
“You’re talking about a one-day-old infant that can’t take care of themselves, there’s a lot of medical needs that start when the baby’s born, and with the heat wave it’s very dangerous, and that’s why this [Safe Haven] law was created, to give parents an out, to transfer custody and make sure the baby’s taken care of,” Bernal said.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the Orlando Police Department at 321-235-5300.
Newborn Girl Abandoned in Woods Wrapped in Plastic Bag
In an attempt to identify the baby’s mother, Georgia police and detectives from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) released body-cam footage of the moment she was discovered on June 6.
Baby India was rescued at around 10 p.m. after a family heard the sound of crying in a wooded area by Daves Creek Road in Forsyth County, authorities said.
A father who lives in the area called 911 to report the noise and told responding officers he wasn’t sure what it was at first, reported Fox News.
“My kids said, ‘That’s a baby,’ and I said, ‘That’s an animal,” he said.
Cumming resident Alan Ragatz told NBC-affiliate WXIA that he and his teenage daughters were about to go to bed when they heard baby India crying, which they couldn’t ignore.
“It sounded human, we just knew something was different about this,” he said.
“We found what looked like a bath mat that was all wrapped up, and by the time we got to it and opened the bath mat, it was a little baby, in what looked like a Publix bag, tied,” Ragatz said. “She still had her umbilical cord and part of the placenta.”
“My girls were in shock, it was an emotional deal, and everybody was upset,” he added.
“She was alive. She was crying, so we figured that was a good sign,” Ragatz told WSBTV’s Channel 2. “Could have been worse. The credit goes to my girls. They were the ones sticking with it.”
According to WSBTV Channel 2, deputies from the FCSO performed first aid on baby India and she was then brought to hospital in a stable condition.
Sheriff Ron Freeman told WSBTV 2 the child was either a “Caucasian or Hispanic female.”
The sheriff’s office said on Facebook on June 11 that the Division of Family and Children Services would take care of baby India to find her a foster home when she is well enough to leave hospital.
The FSCO urges anyone with any information regarding baby India’s case to contact their tip line at 770-888-7308.