YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Orange County

Passerby Hears a Cry, Pulls Newborn From Trash Bin

Taking a shortcut in San Juan Capistrano makes the difference between life and death for a boy who appears healthy. It's now an attempted-murder case.

September 01, 2004|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

An hours-old boy in a trash bag -- and with another bag tied tightly around his neck -- was rescued from a trash bin in San Juan Capistrano on Tuesday, triggering an intense search for whoever abandoned him.

The newborn, with his umbilical cord twisted around his neck, was discovered by a woman who thought she'd heard the cries of a cat and climbed into the bin to investigate.

She found a full-term, 6-pound, 3-ounce baby, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The baby was listed later in good condition at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo and was not expected to suffer any lasting harm, Amormino said.

The baby was discovered about 10:30 a.m. by Evitalia Garcia, 71, who was visiting from Mexico City and said she is the mother of 18 children.

She said she was taking a shortcut to a daughter's apartment when she heard muffled cries coming from the bin, in an apartment parking lot on Paseo Carolina, and climbed in.

"I took the baby out of that bag so it could breathe," a distraught Garcia said through an interpreter. "I was [stunned]. How could someone throw a baby away? I have 18 of them and they're all still living. I feel victorious today because I saved a life."

Using a bloodhound, deputies searched the working-class district a few blocks from City Hall. As dozens of neighborhood children followed along, the bloodhound, Sonsee, trotted door to door for about 30 minutes.

"We are conducting an attempted-murder investigation," Amormino said. "If the woman would not have come by that Dumpster, the baby would have died shortly after."

Garcia said she found blood-soaked woman's cotton pants and a pajama top in the trash bag. Amormino said investigators found physical evidence at the scene, but wouldn't specify, and that he hoped the mother lived nearby.

Amormino said he was mystified why a mother would abandon a child in California.

"The 'safe haven' law says a mother can drop off an unwanted [infant] at a hospital, police or fire station without questions being asked," he said. Such infants cannot be older than 72 hours.

Garcia's daughter Susana, a mother of two, offered to keep the baby. "If his mom didn't want him, I'd love him with all my heart," she said. Amormino said the county would take custody.

Los Angeles Times Articles