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Public Help Sought in Identifying Baby Found Dead at Waste Plant


When police find an infant abandoned in a trash can or dumpster, they canvass the neighborhood for witnesses or evidence.

But when the baby is found at a busy waste processing plant, where trucks dump scores of loads every hour, an already difficult task becomes nearly impossible.

"It compounds the problem immensely," said Det. Sgt. Richard Longshore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Longshore said the public's help, and luck, will be needed to find the person who dumped a day-old girl in the trash Monday.

The body was found Monday evening by workers separating recyclable materials from trash on a conveyor belt at Athens Disposal Co. in the City of Industry.

An autopsy determined that the girl, who was born alive, died of blunt-force trauma. Investigators said uncertainty about the body's origin will complicate the task of finding who dumped her.

Athens Disposal has hundreds of routes from West Covina to Pasadena, Longshore said.

"It's a daunting task, and we're going to need the public's help," Longshore said. "But someone was pregnant to a full term and has no child to produce."

The infant appeared to be "a female Hispanic, full term, with dark hair," Longshore said.

Investigators are analyzing debris found near the body in a search for clues, and the search for a suspect is focused in the eastern part of the San Gabriel Valley.

"It's a needle in a haystack," said sheriff's Det. Sgt. Dan Scott, who has investigated child abuse cases for 15 years.

Scott said studies have shown that it's misleading to assume that the typical suspect in such a case is a young woman who is pregnant for the first time.

"There is no stereotypical suspect," Scott said, adding that women in their mid-30s with several children have abandoned infants.

The only consistent pattern, Scott said, is secrecy about the pregnancy.

Despite a state law that allows anyone to drop an infant off at a hospital emergency room for up to 72 hours after birth--no questions asked--Scott said he was aware of very few cases in which people have done so.

"We have to get the word out that this didn't have to happen," Scott said.

People with information about the case are asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500.

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