Police: High-pitched screams lead Fla. couple to baby abandoned in woods
"Thank God for neighbors who were inquisitive and said: 'That screaming is not right,'" Sheriff Grady Judd said
By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer
MULBERRY, Fla. — A Florida woman believing she heard “cats screaming and fighting” in the dark is being credited with saving an abandoned newborn, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The rescue happened at 1:47 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, after the woman convinced her husband to join her in searching the woods near Regal Loop Mobile Home Park in Mulberry when she realized it was actually a baby crying, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Mulberry is about 30 miles east of Tampa.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd called the woman and her husband “heroes.”
“The two of them searched around and out in the woods, they found this infant. This beautiful baby girl,” Judd said at a press conference.
“So immediately, obviously, they dial 911 ... and we found this baby who is 6 and a half pounds, fully developed, very healthy,” Judd said.” Now (she) has some insect bites for being in the woods at least an hour and a half, wrapped in some old blankets and left there with still the umbilical cord and placenta attached.”
The child was rushed to a hospital in “exceptional condition” despite being left out in temperatures that dipped into the lower 50s, officials said. She is believed to be of “Hispanic descent,” officials said.
“Thank God for neighbors who were inquisitive and said: ‘That screaming is not right’,” Judd said. “It was by the grace of God that we found the abandoned baby girl when we did, before exposure to the cold or any animals caused her any harm. She was left in an extremely vulnerable condition, but she’s a strong little girl, and it looks like she’s doing great.”
The child was found in a wooded area between two mobile home parks on Bailey Road, officials said. A search of the area was launched to find the mother, including the use of drones, search dogs and door-to-door visits by deputies, officials said.
“No one claims to know who the mother is,” Judd said. “From experience, it’s usually a younger person who does not want the child or has some how hidden presence of child from their parents.”
It remains unclear whether the child was born in the woods or taken there after birth, officials said.
“Certainly we saved this person from a homicide charge, because had that child laid out there and died, then we would be talking about a murder investigation,” Judd said. “We will hold her accountable because she left this child abandoned in the woods ostensibly to die.”
Florida’s Safe Haven Law allows parents to remain anonymous while leaving unharmed newborns “under a week old” at hospitals, EMS services and fire stations, the sheriff’s office said.