A newborn boy wrapped in thin bed linens was left in a shopping cart outside a strip mall in New Carrollton early Monday, the fourth abandoned baby found in Prince George's County this year, police said yesterday.
The hours-old infant was found by a county resident shortly after 6 a.m. in a desolate parking lot in the 8400 block of Annapolis Road, said Cpl. Joe Merkel, a police spokesman. The seven-pound baby was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center and was listed yesterday in good condition, Merkel said, adding that the county's Department of Social Services had assumed custody of him.
Law enforcement sources said the baby was found along with a note reading: "Take my baby. I'm a crack addict. I can't take care of it."
Investigators searched yesterday for the baby's mother, canvassing residential areas near the shopping center, which includes a liquor store, a beauty salon, a video rental store and a pizzeria. County officials reminded residents of safer alternatives, noting that state law allows a woman, within 72 hours of giving birth, to leave her child any place that has designated itself a "safe haven" -- such as a hospital, a fire station or a church -- without fear of being prosecuted.
In this case, the newborn's mother did not leave him in a safe haven and, if found, she could be arrested, police said. They said possible charges include child neglect and child abuse.
"This is just another really sad story," Merkel said. "We have to continue to let people know that other options exist, that this isn't the way to go."
Frederick Corder, the county's health officer, said his office "wants to make sure that parents know of the opportunities that are available," including prenatal care and pregnancy and parenting counseling.
A brochure, available in English and Spanish, details the options available to parents, including the locations of safe havens and adoption centers, said Karyn Lynch, director of the county's Department of Social Services. She said anyone who wants a copy of the brochure should call 301-883-7879.
In March, two infants -- one alive and one dead -- were found one day and several miles apart. A newborn boy was discovered dead in a plastic grocery bag outside an apartment building in Oxon Hill. The state medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide, saying the baby was alive when he was placed in the bag and died from a combination of asphyxiation and exposure. The next day, March 16, a girl was found alive, naked and screaming, on the back porch of a house in Clinton.
A few weeks later, on April 6, a newborn boy was found on the front steps of a Langley Park apartment building.
None of those cases has been solved.