Authorities are trying to locate the mother of a newborn baby who was found dead in a strawberry field in an unincorporated area of Ventura County, California on Monday morning, and they say they are investigating the case as a homicide.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Don Aguilar said Thursday that detectives are concerned about the physical and psychological condition of the mother and they believe she probably needs medical treatment. Evidence suggests that the woman delivered what Aguilar described as a full-term fetus in the field where the body was discovered.
Although a medical examiner has not yet been able to determine the cause of death and authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the baby was stillborn, it is currently being treated as a homicide. Aguilar said further testing is needed and the investigation is ongoing, so they do not want to rush to judgment.
The sheriff’s office is reaching out to the English and Spanish speaking communities in the area for help finding the child’s mother. A press release stated they are especially interested in people who know of pregnant women “whose pregnancy may have ended mysteriously over the weekend with no sign of a baby.”
Aguilar said the sheriff’s office is also trying to educate the public about California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which was passed in 2001 and allows parents to surrender lawful custody of a child at a hospital, fire station or other designated site within 72 hours of birth with no questions asked. Because of incidents like this, they worry that citizens may not be aware that these options are available.
The National Safe Haven Alliance offers additional information on the California law and similar laws in effect in every other state.
“It’s a tragic death,” Aguilar said. “Let’s reduce the risk of this happening again.”
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