Tape May Tell Who Left Baby -- Newborn's Body Found In Restroom Trash

Police hope videotapes from several surveillance cameras will show who left the body of a newborn baby boy in a restroom trash can at a convenience store in North Seattle.

Tapes from the cameras were seized by Seattle police yesterday afternoon after the body was found at the Chevron Food Mart at 8721 Lake City Way N.E.

Homicide Sgt. Dave Ritter said he thinks the infant was born in the restroom of the store, although no evidence of the birth was found there. He said it is possible the baby was born elsewhere and then brought to the restroom, which is inside the 24-hour store.

A clerk in the store called police at 12:48 p.m. yesterday and said she found the newborn in the bottom of a plastic trash bag in the restroom.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy this morning, but a spokesman said the cause and manner of death are inconclusive until further tests.

Meanwhile, a Seattle Police spokeswoman said police homicide detectives had spent this morning reviewing videotapes from the surveillance cameras.

Police were told the trash bag in the restroom was last replaced late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Police did not indicate the amount of time covered by the videotapes. At least one camera was aimed at the store's entrance.

Technicians spent several hours in the restroom taking fingerprints, Ritter said.

It was not immediately known when the infant was born and whether it was born alive.

Carmen Best, police spokeswoman, said after investigators identify the baby's mother, they will consider her age and mental competency before deciding whether to seek charges against her.

The past year has seen several newborn babies abandoned in restrooms, outhouses or elsewhere in the Puget Sound area:

-- On July 24, 18-year-old Vanessa Bold of Mukilteo admitted hiding the body of her nearly full-term stillborn baby in the crawl space under her family's home. Bold was sentenced to 365 days in jail, with all but three suspended.

-- On July 22, a 13-year-old girl gave birth to a baby boy in an outhouse on Camano Island and then buried the infant with the help of its father, her stepbrother. The father, Daniel Bragg, 21, was arrested and charged with second-degree child rape and removing a concealed body.

-- On July 11, the body of a newborn boy was found in a portable toilet at a Puyallup-area berry farm. The mother was a 21-year-old migrant worker from Mexico who was working at the farm.

-- Last November, the body of a newborn girl was found by recycling workers sorting garbage on the conveyor belt of a Ferndale, Whatcom County, business.

Dee Norton's phone message number is 206-464-2255. His e-mail address is: dnor-new@seatimes.com