A newborn girl died after she was abandoned in freezing temperatures on the steps of a Northeast home, leaving police on Monday to try to identify her and find out who deserted her.
The discovery of the infant, who Metropolitan Police Department officials said was no more than a week old, sparked outrage and grief among residents in the 3000 block of Channing Street, where the girl was found.
"It's the only thing on our minds," said 31-year-old teacher Ian Milne, on whose front steps the girl was found. Mr. Milne did not know the child or who she belonged to.
Mr. Milne's neighbor, Emmanuel Dugger, 35, discovered the infant close to midnight Sunday, wrapped only in a red-and-white-striped towel and laying on the steps leading into his yard. She was icy cold to the touch, Mr. Dugger said, and he suspects she was outdoors much longer than the 15 minutes it took for him to walk to the store and back.
"I keep beating myself up over and over again. I didn't hear any crying when I went to the store," Mr. Dugger said. "I wish I hadn't seen what I seen because I have two kids of my own. I can't imagine leaving a child laying on the cold concrete with nothing."
Mr. Dugger alerted his father, who tried to perform CPR on the baby, but police officials said she was in cardiac arrest when medics rushed her to Children's Hospital.
Police hope to learn more Monday through an autopsy about the exact cause of the baby girl's death and whether she suffered any injuries prior to being left on the steps, Lt. Robert Alder, of the police department's homicide branch, said. The person who left the girl could face a litany of charges, including murder, in connection with the baby's death.
Under safe haven laws in the District, a parent is allowed to drop off a child at a location such as a firehouse or police station if they're unable to care for the child.
"If the child has not been hurt, there is no legal action taken against the parents," Lt. Alder said.
With fire and police stations both less than a mile away, the young couple who live at the home where the baby girl was discovered were especially saddened by her death.
Mr. Milne said he continues to rack his brain for any time over the last several months that he can recall seeing a pregnant woman in the neighborhood. Allison Milne, 30, said she worries for the mother's health and wonders whether she's gotten medical attention.
Surrounded by a white picket fence, the Milnes' front yard is dotted with a handful of brightly colored toys for their two children, ages 2 and 3. They both wonder if that's why the person who abandoned the girl left her on their steps.
"We're just feeling full of regret that she wasn't found sooner," Mr. Milne said. "We are in the process of trying to adopt, so we know so many people who are looking for a child."
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