Newborn found in church parking lot

By Josh White
Monday, November 15, 2010

A newborn girl was left in the parking lot of a Springfield Catholic church just before Mass on Sunday, and police were trying to find the mother.

The baby was found about 6:30 a.m. when a patron of St. Raymond of Penafort Roman Catholic Church, at 8750 Pohick Rd., noticed a bag in the parking lot. The infant, thought to have been just hours old, was inside. The patron called for help, and the baby was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

"She had probably only been there for a few minutes," said Officer Shelley Broderick, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. "She is in good condition and will be at the hospital for several days for tests."

It was chilly Sunday morning, but officers said they thought the infant had been outside only briefly and was not directly exposed to the elements.

Broderick said detectives were trying to determine what happened and wanted to find the mother. Doctors were not able to determine the baby's race.

"Detectives are concerned about the health of the mother," Broderick said. "The child obviously was not born in a hospital, and it's possible she could have delivered the child on her own."

It was unclear whether the mother would face criminal charges. Broderick said the baby was left outside and unattended, rather than in the church or another safe location. Virginia law allows parents to leave a child who is less than 14 days old at a hospital or rescue squad as long as the baby is left "in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety."

Broderick said cases of abandoned babies are rare in Fairfax.

Officers urge anyone with information about the baby to contact Crime Solvers at 866-411-8477, where callers can leave information anonymously.

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