The mother of a 17-year-old girl from the Anne Arundel County community of Arnold found the body of her daughter's newborn son in a trash can outside the family home Sunday evening, said police, who awaited autopsy results yesterday to determine how the baby died.

"Of course, the big question is: Was the baby born alive, or was it stillborn?" said Sgt. Shawn Urbas, spokesman for the Anne Arundel police. "That will determine what direction we need to go in our investigation."

Urbas said the mother learned of the birth -- and death -- of her grandson when she confronted her daughter Sunday with suspicions that she was or had been carrying a child. The daughter eventually admitted that she had given birth that day and that the mother "could find the baby in the trash container" outside the house, Urbas said. The mother found the body and dialed 911.

"It sounds like, and it appeared that, the baby was deceased by the time officers arrived," Urbas said.

The body was taken to the medical examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy. Police considered the death suspicious but had not charged the girl, a student at Broadneck High School in Annapolis.

"I don't think she would do anything to hurt anybody. She's not that kind of person," said Kasey Smith, 16, a junior at Broadneck who has known the girl since elementary school.

Kasey and her sister Megan, 18, a Broadneck senior, speculated that the girl hid her pregnancy under increasingly baggy clothing.

"She would never, like, tell anybody her business," Kasey Smith said. "You don't tell anybody at Broadneck anything."

"I've seen her, and she didn't look pregnant at all," Megan Smith said.

The investigation has revealed that a civilian employee of the county police criminal investigation division is related to the girl. That employee has been temporarily reassigned, and a detective from another unit has been made lead investigator, to avoid a potential conflict of interest, Urbas said.

Last week, a 21-year-old college student from Prince George's County was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her baby, who police believe was born in a bathroom on the Villa Julie College campus in Baltimore County. Police found the newborn girl in a storm drain Oct. 4, the day after Danielle Eboni Riley allegedly gave birth.

"We don't want anybody to jump to conclusions" in the Anne Arundel case, Urbas said, "because we need to determine what exactly caused this infant to die."