Newborn baby found dead in dumpster, police say

LAKELAND, Fla. — Police are investigating after a man digging through a dumpster behind a gym in Lakeland found the remains of a newborn boy.

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The man was going through the dumpster behind Just Move on the 3600 block of South Florida Avenue when he found a bag that contained the remains of a baby with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached, Chief Sam Taylor said. The chief added that the child appeared to have been in the dumpster for less than 10 hours.

Authorities pronounced the boy dead at the scene.

The remains were given to the medical examiner to determine his cause and manner of death.

“There would be several charges, depending on … whether the child was killed. Was the child stillborn?” Taylor said. “You could have a homicide charge — you know, did the child suffocate in the bag?”

As authorities wait for the results of the autopsy, detectives began canvassing the area “trying to find any information they can that will lead them to who put the child in the dumpster,” Taylor said.

Under Florida law, parents can leave unharmed newborns who are under one week old at any Safe Haven facility — including hospitals, emergency medical service stations or fire stations — with no questions asked.

“The sad thing about it is right across the street, or right down the street there … is an emergency room, and just down the street a little bit further is an ambulance station that … whoever it was that dumped the child … could have taken the child to,” Taylor said.

Several states have safe haven laws similar to Florida’s. To find your state’s statutes, you can search through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Child Welfare Information Gateway.

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