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Published: Thursday, 5/17/2007

6th grader finds newborn baby boy in Findlay park restroom; mother sought

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FINDLAY The white cardboard box caught her eye first, but it was the poignant words written on one side that made her curious enough to look inside.

"Please take care of me. I was born May 15th. (My mommy can't.)"

Twelve-year-old Rebecca Simpson said she was expecting to see puppies when she peered into the box but instead saw a blue towel and two tiny hands. Police say there was also a pink sweater wrapped around the baby.

"I saw hands moving, and I started freaking out," Rebecca, a sixth grader at Glenwood Middle School, said yesterday, just a few hours after discovering a newborn baby boy inside a restroom at Riverside Park about 11:20 a.m.

Written on the flap of the box containing the infant boy were the words: 'Please take care of me! I was born on May 15th (My mommy can't)'. Written on the flap of the box containing the infant boy were the words: 'Please take care of me! I was born on May 15th (My mommy can't)'.
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The school orchestra, in which the girl plays violin, had just arrived at the park for a pizza party after performing at two local elementary schools when what should have been a quick trip to the restroom turned out to be the unfolding of a mystery.

Findlay Police Lt. Chuck Wilson said investigators want to speak to the baby's mother, but so far have no leads on who that might be. The baby, who was described as a male Caucasian weighing just over 5 pounds, was being examined at Blanchard Valley Hospital where doctors expected to keep him overnight for observation.

"The baby appears to be healthy," Lieutenant Wilson said, adding that physicians believe he was 24 to 48 hours old when he was found at Riverside.

The lieutenant said it concerned him that the baby may not have been found so quickly if the Glenwood students had not gone to the park for a field trip.

Ohio's Safe Haven law allows a parent to anonymously drop off a newborn at any hospital, police or fire station, with no questions asked if the baby does not appear to have been abused. But it's a different story when a baby is abandoned in a park. Lieutenant Wilson said the person responsible could be charged with child endangering.

This pink sweater also was found in the cardboard box with the baby boy. This pink sweater also was found in the cardboard box with the baby boy.
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"Whether or not charges are going to result from this case, it's too early to tell," he said. "We'd just like to talk to the mom."

Statewide, 43 infants have been abandoned since 2001-- four of those in Lucas County, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

"Whether or not charges are going to result from this case, it's too early to tell," he said. "We'd just like to talk to the mom."

Statewide, 43 infants have been abandoned since 2001-- four of those in Lucas County, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

"You see it on TV. You hear about it in storybooks, but you never think it's going to happen in real life," said Deanna Shank, school secretary at Glenwood and the first person Rebecca told about her discovery.

Mrs. Shank, who was chaperoning the orchestra trip, said she was a bit skeptical when Rebecca ran up and told her she found a box in the bathroom with a baby in it. She thought perhaps it was a doll, but as soon as she got to the restroom it was clear this was a real baby.

The baby was not crying, she said, but had no clothing or diaper. He was wrapped in a light blue towel and appeared to be clean. There was no clamp on the umbilical cord, indicating that he probably wasn't born in a hospital, Mrs. Shank said.

She scooped up the box and then she, Rebecca, and another student found a park employee who took them into his office and called police.

"At that point I took the baby out of the box and held him," Mrs. Shank said, adding that when the ambulance arrived, she hated to give him up. "I didn't want to see him go. It's weird how your motherly instincts take over."

Rebecca said she was kind of scared at first and later shocked to think someone would leave a baby like that.

"I was thinking puppies because usually people don't put a baby in a box," she said.

Police said there are no surveillance cameras at the park that might help identify who left the baby. Both the girl and Mrs. Shank said the park worker told them he'd been in the restroom earlier in the morning and had not seen the box, leading them to believe the baby had not been there for too long.

Police are asking anyone with information about the baby or his mother to call police at 419-424-7163 or to call Crime Stoppers at 419-425-TIPS.

After meeting up with her mother after school yesterday, Rebecca smiled and admitted she tends to be on the curious side.

"Whenever I see something I try to see what it is unless I know it's something I shouldn't be looking at," she said.

Her mother, Amy Simpson, was at work at a local day-care center when she got a call from her daughter's school around noon telling her what happened.

"I was shocked - appalled that somebody would do that, but thankful that she found it," said Mrs. Simpson, who was initially told that her daughter was fine but had found a box in the restroom at Riverside.

"I was thinking, was it drugs? Was it a bomb? I never thought for a second they were going to say a baby," Mrs. Simpson said. "It's a miracle she was in the right place at the right time."

Asked what she hoped was in store for the new baby, Rebecca said she hoped the little boy would have a family and a bright future.

"I hope he grows up to be a good person," she said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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