Sat, Dec

A Case for ‘Safe Surrender’: Baby Found Buried Alive In An Asphalt Grave

BABY SAFE-The Compton Sheriff’s Station is asking for the Public’s help in gathering information on a newborn baby girl buried alive in a heap of asphalt and debris wrapped in nothing but a thin blanket. 

Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a 911 call from two women who reported hearing a baby’s cry near the bike path where they were walking on November 27 around 4:15PM. 

Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff’s David Perry and Adam Collette searched the area and heard the cries. They dug through the dirt and debris and found a newborn baby girl in a 2-foot wide hole in the asphalt path near the riverbed between 136th Street and Slater Avenue in the city of Compton. 

The hole was filled with dirt, weeds and covered with two large pieces of asphalt. 

Collette remarked that he still was in disbelief that a baby was buried under the debris. Initially he thought there might be an animal in distress. “When we recovered the newborn from under the asphalt,” said Collette, “it was a real sigh of relief because the cry that I heard as a father, was more of a cry for help and not a cry of an injury.” He later visited the baby in the hospital and was happy to see how well she was doing. 

The baby girl was estimated to be around 36 to 48 hours old; her face was covered with loose dirt and was cold to the touch. Deputies checked the baby’s vital signs and called paramedics who transported her to a local Hospital. She is currently in stable condition. Medical Personnel said the infant would not have survived the cold temperatures overnight. 

Special Victims Bureau Detective Jennifer Valenzuela was working overtime and was on the scene to provide additional information pertaining to the investigation. The only description of the baby offered by Valenzuela was that she was either “Hispanic or African American.” 

Valenzuela noted, “There are a lot of questions that are unanswered. We don’t know what we’re dealing with. We don’t know if we’re dealing with a young mother who is a victim herself. So, until we get some questions answered, we’ll determine at that time what will happen next.”  It is not known if any criminal charges will be filed against the mother. 

Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe said, “Obviously it’s truly a miracle that this young baby girl is actually alive and what could have been an absolute tragedy were it not for the quick thinking actions of some concerned citizens and the incredible response of our Sheriffs Department, this young baby is alive.” Knabe suggested that an inability to communicate with family members and a feeling of being overwhelmed by the pregnancy might have been a contributing factor leading to the abandonment of the child. 

Knabe stressed that there is a better way: Anyone can take a child to any firehouse, Sheriff’s department or hospital and be certain the child will be cared for. By law, that person will then have 14 days to recover the child. 

Knabe continued, “No shame, no blame and no name. The process is alive and well. The baby gets an arm band and the mother gets an armband.” 

Under the auspices of the Safely Surrendered Baby law (SSB) enacted in 2001, Knabe created a program for Los Angeles County. The intent is to save the lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment. Persons or parents with lawful custody can safely surrender infants within 72 hours of birth with no questions asked. 

Since the law’s creation in January 2001, nearly 700 newborn babies have been surrendered in the State --140 mothers in Los Angeles alone. 

There should not be a rush to judgement when a mother abandons a baby. Poor parenting skills, no housing, lack of financial resources, substance abuse and teenage births are just a few of the reasons that can drive a mother to abandon her baby. 

Once the baby girl found in Compton is discharged from the hospital, she will be handed over to the Department of Children and Family Services Los Angeles County (DCFS) where they will place the child in a safe place. 

Armand Montiel, spokesperson for the DCFS, said, “If no parent or relative comes forward and is willing to answer questions and be cleared by law enforcement, DCFS will find a safe place for the baby and will file with the court to take jurisdiction over the baby.” 

Montiel also encouraged those with an interest in helping abandoned babies to go through the foster process and become licensed. You can find more information about the foster process by calling (888) 811-1121 or by visiting www.Shareyourheartla.org

Detectives from the department's Special Victims Bureau have asked anyone with information regarding the Compton newborn to call them at (877) 710-5273. 

For more information on SSB, please visit http://www.babysafe.ca.gov/res/pdf/SSBFactSheet.pdf

A child’s life may depend on this symbol.



(Katharine Russ is an investigative reporter and a regular contributor to CityWatch. She can be reached at [email protected].) Edited for City Watch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 13 Issue 98

Pub: Dec 4, 2015