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Woman Farm Worker Sought in Baby's Death

August 01, 1991|GERRY BRAILO SPENCER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ventura County sheriff's investigators are searching for the mother of a baby whose body was found in Camarillo early Tuesday in a portable outdoor toilet used by farm workers.

The cause of death of the full-term baby, estimated to have been born about noon Sunday, has not yet been determined by the Ventura County coroner, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Investigators, however, are treating the death as a homicide because the autopsy showed the baby was alive at birth, Sgt. Kelly Fadler said. Detectives with the department's major crimes unit are searching for a Mexican transient farm worker in her early 20s.

"She did a similar thing back in May of 1990 in the city of Oxnard," Fadler said.

"The protective services agency dealt with her and an infant at that time, a child that she treated in the same manner. That child survived."

Fadler said his department is working on information that the woman, whose name he would not release because of the investigation, may also have committed similar crimes.

"There are rumors that we have not verified about like situations in Mexico," he said.

The body of the male infant was found at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday by a worker who cleans and pumps the chemical toilets that are used by farm workers.

The toilet had been moved early this week to Camarillo from a Saticoy onion field.

Fadler said all the facts of the investigation lead to the transient farm worker.

"We have tracked down other reports, previous employees she has worked with, employers, acquaintances," Fadler said.

"We went to her last residence and her roommates said she was in bed awake when they left and told them she was leaving for Mexico. When they returned, she was gone from the residence."

Fadler said that if the woman crosses the Mexican border, there is little his department can do.

"We've contacted the Border Patrol to watch out for her, in the hopes that they find her crossing the border," he said.

"We'll check with the authorities, but cooperation with those authorities, when dealing with a Mexican national, is not very successful."

This is the second case in Ventura County in the last five weeks in which the body of an abandoned newborn has been found.

On June 26, the body of a newborn baby girl was found in a plastic bag at the bottom of a trash can in a restroom at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.

Authorities have not yet determined whether to file charges against the 15-year-old mother who gave birth to the 3-pound, 9-ounce baby in the hospital's restroom.

The girl told police that she believed that the infant was dead. She became frightened and left the baby in the trash can.

The baby, born in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, died of asphyxiation and might have survived if she had received medical attention, police said.

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