Authorities in California have arrested a woman who they believe is the mother of a dead baby abandoned in a strawberry field last May.
The deceased newborn was found in a strawberry field at La Esperanza Farms in Camarillo on May 21. According to a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office press release, detectives spent months interviewing potential witnesses and pursuing possible leads while also seeking help from the public to identify the baby’s mother.
Investigators collected more than 100 DNA swabs from field workers who were in the area that day. Forensic scientists were able to identify one of those samples as being from a close relative of the newborn’s mother.
20-year-old Rosalba Cruz Moran was identified as a possible suspect, the press release stated, and a search warrant was obtained to collect her DNA while she was in jail on an unrelated charge for allegedly using false documents. Forensic testing confirmed that she was the mother of the deceased baby, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities have “significant evidence” directly connecting Moran to the baby’s murder, according to the press release. She remains in custody at Todd Road Jail. Bond was set at $1 million, but immigration officials have also placed a hold on her while they determine whether she is in the country legally.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Don Aguilar told HLN authorities are not releasing the baby’s cause of death because the investigation is still in progress. Detectives are still working to identify the baby’s father.
An attorney representing Moran on the false document charges, Matthew Bromund, told HLN he has not been retained to represent her in the murder case. He did attend her first court appearance on the murder charge, however, and he asked that her arraignment be continued to allow her and her family time to decide whether they want to use a private attorney or request a public defender.
“Obviously, it’s a very serious allegation, and if we’re retained, I look forward to defending her vigorously,” Bromund said. Moran has pleaded not guilty to the earlier charge of using false documents.
Aguilar said the sheriff’s office wants to emphasize to the public that California law allows parents to safely surrender an infant within 72 hours of birth at hospitals, fire stations or other approved locations without any fear of prosecution. In Ventura County, residents can dial 211 to find the nearest safe surrender location. More information on the law is available at www.babysafe.ca.gov.
“There are options,” Aguilar said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Lopez or Detective Worthy at 805-383-8786. If callers want to remain anonymous, they can also contact CrimeStoppers at 800-222-8477.