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Baby's parents identified; Newborn's body to be autopsied.

Byline: Linda Bock

MILFORD - Police identified a 27-year-old Milford woman yesterday as the mother of a dead newborn found Saturday in the back of a BFI disposal truck.

An autopsy will be conducted today by the office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the cause and manner of the infant's death, police said.

Investigating police officers summoned emergency medical technicians and paramedics from the Milford Fire Department to provide emergency medical services to the baby's mother at Milford Police Headquarters.

Milford Police Chief Thomas J. O'Loughlin said the mother voluntarily came to police headquarters yesterday with the child's father. She also was questioned Saturday. The names of the parents were not released.

"We did interview her," O'Loughlin said. "There's no question she's the mother."

Police released little information Saturday night or last night, other than to confirm that the body of a baby had been discovered. The age, gender and description of the newborn have not been released, nor have details such as the mother's name, whether foul play is suspected, or if charges are pending.

The baby was found in a trash truck on Purchase Street, near Camp Street, by trash collectors. The truck has been impounded as part of the investigation.

Police said no further information on the investigation would be provided until a determination has been made by the medical examiner and Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. reviews the case.

Mr. Early, state police Lt. Richard McKeon and Chief O'Loughlin thanked the public yesterday for its support and cooperation in providing information during the investigation. Police established a tip line Saturday for anyone with information on the deceased child or its family.

Meanwhile, Baby Safe Haven New England yesterday called for renewal of the Massachusetts Baby Safe Haven Law in the wake of the death.

The Safe Haven Law allows mothers to leave their newborns at police departments and fire stations - without facing legal consequences. The legislation was passed to encourage parents to bring unwanted babies to safe places instead of leaving them to suffer, or even die. The law went into effect in October 2004. Massachusetts was the 46th state to adopt such a law.

Parents must hand the baby to somebody at the facility, and are not required to answer questions or identify themselves. However, staff members are encouraged to ask for information.

Babies are covered under the law if they are no more than 7 days old. According to the law, a baby taken to a police or fire station is immediately taken to a hospital. The state Department of Social Services then takes custody of the infant and places the baby in foster care. Parental rights are not immediately terminated.

Baby Safe Haven New England co-founders Jean L. and Michael D. Morrisey of Lexington named the baby found in the trash Saturday Baby Epiphany, in honor of the Epiphany, a Christian feast day commemorated Jan. 6. Mr. Morrisey said they named the baby because in more than 50 percent of such cases, the mother is never located.

The Morriseys are advocating for a renewed effort to alert the public of the Baby Safe Haven law, and to push for the Legislature to renew the law when it expires next year. They said the state's Baby Safe Haven law has been utilized four times in the two years since its implementation. The most recent baby surrendering took place in the metro Boston area in November. Named Baby Iris, the newborn was safely relinquished. Twenty-one other women have utilized the Baby Safe Haven 24-hour hot line for counseling into full adoption or parenting programs. Mr. Morrisey said the hot line receives up to 100 calls a month, from girls as young as 12 to women in their 30s.

Mr. Morrisey said he wished the Milford baby's mother had availed herself of the Baby Safe Haven law. It is not known, however, if the Baby Safe Haven law was applicable in this case.

Mr. and Mrs. Morrisey pushed for the Baby Safe Haven law in Massachusetts beginning in November 2001, when a baby was found in Dorchester, and watched the law slowly wind its way through the state's legislative process. A few years ago, when it appeared the law had lost momentum, the couple began going from town to town, including Milford, trying to get local officials to adopt their own versions of the law.

Brian W. Murray, chairman of selectmen, who was also chairman at the time the local ordinance was passed in 2004, said the board approved the measure before presenting it to town meeting in June 2004. Mr. Murray said the board received positive feedback from the police and fire departments, Milford Regional Hospital and other local officials when they first proposed that Milford enact a local Baby Safe Haven home-rule petition.

"At the time, Milford was the seventh town in the state to enact a local law," Mr. Murray said. "We were at the forefront of this law. Now, our job is to make it better."

Mr. Murray said officials will work to support the Baby Safe Haven law.

"Right now, this has hit everybody right between the eyes," Mr. Murray said.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
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