CONWAY, S.C. (AP) - For more than a decade, “Baby Boy Horry” was little more than a footnote to mark the passage of time.
Every December, local dignitaries and a motorcycle gathered to remember the baby found abandoned and dead in Horry County woods. He had no family. No name. He barely had a life. It was the only chance to tell him people cared.
This month, they again told “Baby Boy Horry” there were people who loved him.
This time they could also tell him he had a family.
“I was glad we had found them,” said Robert Edge, the Horry County Coroner who helped lead the memorials. “I’m sad we ended how it is.”
For the last 12 years, Edge and others hoped they would find “Baby Boy Horry’s” family. He was found on Dec. 4, 2008 by utility workers in woods outside of Conway. Investigators searched to identify his parents, but leads went nowhere.
Out of the blue this year, investigators announced they figured out “Baby Boy’s Horry’s” identity. They also found his parents. But, they said his mom was responsible for his death. In March, Horry County police arrested Jennifer Sahr, his suspected mother, and charged her with homicide by child abuse.
When “Baby Boy Horry” was found, Sahr went by her maiden name of Rickel and was a Coastal Carolina University student. She continued to attend classes after the baby’s death and graduated in 2010.
Sahr moved away from the Myrtle Beach area and eventually settled in Florida with her husband and had two children. Police have only said DNA allowed them to identify Sahr as “Baby Boy Horry’s” mom. They have not specified how they were led to the forensic connection more than a decade later.
As police zeroed in on Sahrin the investigation, she returned to South Carolina on her lawyer’s advice. In early March, Horry County police identified her publicly and asked for help finding her. By that evening, she was arrested by U.S. Marshals in North Myrtle Beach. She planned to turn herself in at jail the next morning, but police found her before she had the chance.
Sahr remains free on $75,000 bond as she awaits her trial.
Police also say they know who fathered “Baby Boy Horry,” but he had no idea the boy was his child. When officers told him, he was shocked and has remained anonymous over the past year. Police have not identified him as committing any crime.
A MEMORIAL UNLIKE OTHER YEARS
Dec. 4, 2020, was a lot like previous years. Edge, local leaders and the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club gathered at Hillcrest Cemetery outside Conway for the anniversary of “Baby Boy Horry” being found.
This year marked the first time they knew his last name and believed they identified his mother.
The event also remembers “Baby Grace,” who was found in Socastee in 2015. Her mother pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse.
As the groups gathered each year, Edge said police would scan the crowd, hoping to see someone who wasn’t there the previous year. Maybe his family would finally show up to try and secretly pay their respects. There was never anyone new and Edge admitted he wondered if they would ever find “Baby Boy Horry’s” family.
“To be honest, I was thinking it was a sinking ship,” Edge said.
The discovery caught Edge by surprise though he admitted it did create hope that other so-called John Doe cases could be solved.
Like Edge, president of the area’s chapter of Rolling Thunder David Maxwell said he didn’t expect the mystery of “Baby Boy Horry” would be solved.
“Now he’s possibly resting in peace,” Maxwell said, as the crowd of about two dozen gathered at “Baby Boy Horry’s” grave site.
The motorcycle club “adopted” the baby since he was found, Maxwell said, and he said they will continue to hold memorials to what would have been “Baby Boy Horry’s” 18th birthday.
The memorial was a chance to remind people if they can’t care for a baby, the child can be left at a hospital or local fire station to be raised by someone else, Maxwell said. He added that a life without parents, is better than no life at all.
When the news broke about “Baby Boy Horry’s” case, Maxwell said he was traveling abroad and couldn’t believe it happened. The fact police named his mother brought some finality to the story, though Maxwell hoped the newborn could be known by more than just “Baby Boy Horry.”
“Are they going to give him a name?” he asked. “I hope so.”
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