Homicide investigation launched after baby’s body found in KC trash truck
On Monday morning, a horrifying incident occurred and Kansas City sanitation workers were shocked to see the crushed remains of a baby in their truck while doing their work.
The workers were emptying garbage bags in the truck when they saw the remaining organs of a baby’s body under the tailgate of the truck. The workers were doing their job in the 2800 block of Campbell Street; they stopped and called 911 to report the incident. The infant was a few weeks old and it is not confirmed from which route the truck picked up the baby.
As part of the investigation, the trash workers were interviewed by investigators. They asked the workers that how many times they cycled the garbage to find out from which route they picked up the baby and investigators also asked them whether the truck was empty when they started their shift.
According to the director of Public Works, Sherri McIntyre, garbage trucks are usually emptied at the end of each shift, but some garbage could be left in overnight if the truck was not that full. McIntyre told, there are no commercial trash bins present along the route, there are only homes.
To report, the city workers called 911 at about 8:15 a.m. 2 helpers and the driver of the truck started their route around 7 a.m.
Police officers didn’t know the cause of the baby’s death but they were investigating the death as a homicide. Capt. Tye Grant said, “We don’t know what happened yet. But we’re handling it as a homicide until we learn differently”. Police officers didn’t confirm the gender of the baby.
After the incident, the garbage truck was marked off with a crime tape and the back opening of the truck was covered with a yellow tarp by the police. The street was also blocked for investigation. When the truck stopped on the block, people at first thought the truck had broken down. Paul Scott, one of the homeowners present in the street said, “But when the police tape came out, I knew that didn’t seem good”. Dia Matthews, another street resident said that the person who threw the infant in the garbage truck “obviously needed help” and apparently didn’t know where to get it. She added, “It’s a sad event. I hope they catch someone because this is an innocent life that’s been taken”.
A tweet was sent out by the police department that urged people to get the benefit of the state’s Safe Haven law, according to which parents can drop off an unwanted baby at a police or fire station or hospital. It was written “No one EVER has to abandon a newborn. Bring it to us with no penalty”. The baby was found in the garbage truck less than a mile away from Children’s Mercy Hospital and about 3 miles away from the Central Patrol Division police station.
Under the Safe Haven law, only parents of babies 5 days or less are immune from prosecution. Parents who drop off their babies older than 5 days, face the possibility of prosecution although they can use the safe haven law as a defense in court. The current law will change on 28th of August when a new Missouri law will be implemented which will extend the immunity from prosecution to include parents of babies forty five days or younger.
Coordinator of the Kansas City Child Abuse Roundtable Coalition Debby Howland said, current law of Missouri was complicated and used confusing legal terms such as “affirmative defense”. “How many people understand what that means?” she said. It will be even more confusing to young people facing a crisis, she added. Due to this, she has been working for years for the alteration of Missouri’s law and to give knowledge to the people about safe haven laws. In 2009, she started struggling after a young Overland Park woman who had hidden her pregnancy from her parents and after putting her newborn baby in a plastic bag, she hid her baby in a refrigerator in her basement. That woman was charged with murder and sentenced to ten years in jail.” Those were two lives lost. Those lives could have been saved if only this person had been aware of the law. That’s why it’s so important to get the word out,” said Howland.
Police Chief Darryl Forté praised “alert city workers” for averting “the possible cover up of the disposal of an infant’s body” in a tweet Monday morning. After some time, he planned to remind officers investigating the incident to take advantage of counseling from the department’s employee assistance program because of the powerful emotional impact that accompanies such cases. “We see a lot on this job, but it’s different when you’re talking about an innocent baby. Over time, it can have an impact on you,” said Forte.