Polk County deputies said someone abandoned a newborn girl in a wooded area by a mobile home park. Sheriff Grady Judd said he named the child Angel Grace Lnu, as in “Last name unknown.”
“She’s as beautiful as an angel,” he told reporters in a press conference. “It’s by the grace of God she is not dead.”
He said that just before midnight on Friday, a woman heard a sound, which she believed to be a cat screaming or fighting. The noise eventually quieted down.
“Then about an hour and a half later,” Judd said, “she heard this screaming and crying again, and she went outside, and said, ‘Well, that’s a baby.'”
She and her husband searched and found the newborn, he said.
Magdalena Gregorio Ordonez said she and her daughter found the baby girl in the woods, according to WFTS.
“I was really surprised that they left a poor little girl on the floor,” her daughter Eulalia Gregorio, 12, told the outlet.
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Judd described Angel Grace as being 6-and-a-half pounds, fully developed and very healthy, but she had some insect bites from being in the woods for at least an hour and a half. She was wrapped in some old blankets and still had her umbilical cord and placenta attached, he said. Investigators are still trying to determine if the baby was born in the woods.
“She is in exceptionally good condition,” the sheriff said. “She’s a beautiful child. We believe she’s of an Hispanic descent, and we need to know who the parents are.”
Judd said they have no idea where the mother is. Investigators took DNA samples from the baby and plan on comparing that to DNA in databases at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” he said.
Citing experience, the mother in such cases is usually from the area, or she has relatives or friends in the area, he said. Investigators have gone door to door in the neighborhood, but everyone investigators have spoken to has denied knowing anyone there being pregnant, he said.
Judd highlighted possible legal consequences for the mother.
“We will hold her accountable because she left this child abandoned in the woods ostensibly to die,” he said. Temperatures at the time were in the low 50s. The sheriff, who did not name Gregorio Ordonez, said she and her husband stopped this case from turning into a murder investigation.
“Those people are heroes,” he said. “True heroes. That lady and her husband saved Angel Grace’s life.”
Angel Grace is now with the Florida Department of Children and Families, the sheriff’s office confirmed.
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In the press conference, Judd highlighted the state’s safe haven law, in which a parent can leave a newborn baby, seven days or younger, at a fire station, EMS station, or hospital. You can do this anonymously.
“You can literally walk up, hand that baby to a firefighter, and drive off, and never disclose who you are,” Judd said. “And there’s no criminal liability for that.”
That did not happen in this case, he said.
Except when there is actual or suspected child abuse or neglect, any parent who leaves a newborn infant with a firefighter, emergency medical technician, or paramedic at a fire station or emergency medical services station, or brings a newborn infant to an emergency room of a hospital and expresses an intent to leave the newborn infant and not return, has the absolute right to remain anonymous and to leave at any time and may not be pursued or followed unless the parent seeks to reclaim the newborn infant. When an infant is born in a hospital and the mother expresses intent to leave the infant and not return, upon the mother’s request, the hospital or registrar shall complete the infant’s birth certificate without naming the mother thereon.
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