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A Kearns woman who allegedly put her newborn daughter in her neighbor's trash can "in hopes it would die and solve her problems," has been booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree felony attempted homicide, Unified Police say.
The child, believed to have been born Monday to 23-year-old Alicia Marie Englert, was uncovered when neighbors heard the infant crying about 7 a.m. Tuesday from a garbage bin near 5300 South 5200 West.
"They thought they heard a kitten crying," said UPD Sgt. Ken Hansen said, "but when they checked, they ended up retrieving the baby."
The infant was taken to Primary Children's Hospital, where she remained in critical condition Wednesday, Hansen said.
Englert returned to her home not long after the baby was found, Hansen said. She told investigators she was afraid to let her parents know of her pregnancy and, after letting the infant spend two days without food or medical care, put the baby in the neighbor's garbage at 6 a.m. Tuesday before she went to work.
Englert lived with her parents, who claim no knowledge of the pregnancy or birth but offered "full cooperation" to investigators, Hansen said. Investigators searched the home Tuesday afternoon but released no information about where and how the baby was kept alive. Investigators believe the baby was born in the home; neither the girl nor Englert received any care since the birth, Hansen said.
"The circumstances today, as shocking as they are, are not very unique," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. Child protection workers report 22 allegations of abandonment of children under age 1 since 2001, according to statistics from the state Department of Child and Family Services. The state in 2001 created the "Safe Havens" law, allowing mothers to drop off newborns up to 72 hours in hospital emergency rooms to be transferred to state care. Eleven newborns have been relinquished voluntarily under the program since 2001, according to DCFS records.
The law also protects mothers who deliver in-hospital with the intent of giving up the child. A hotline at 801-587-3000 also connects expecting mothers to medical, legal and psychological assistance.
"Some women need help finding adequate resources," said Alfred Romeo, an official with the health department.
Working through those needs and making plans including adoption before the baby is born is critical, Winder said.
"Some people feel trapped prior to giving birth," he said. "... We want to prevent this kind of tragedy hopefully from ever happening again."
The newborn found Tuesday in Kearns was suffering life-threatening "failure to thrive" after two days without care, Winder said. She also may have suffered because the umbilical cord was not severed professionally, Hansen said, though he had no further details. There were no obvious signs of blunt-force trauma, Winder said.
"It will take some time to see to what extent, hopefully, this baby recovers," Hansen said. "If she doesn't [recover fully], that will give us some clues what happened during the first couple of days of her life."
Twitter: @remims Utah Newborn Safe Haven Network •
A list of Utah hospitals that participate in the "Safe Haven" program, where newborns can be dropped off by mothers without being reported to police or prosecuted, can be found at this website: http://www.utahsafehaven.org/Hospitals.html Utah Newborn Safe Haven Network •
A list of Utah hospitals that participate in the "Safe Haven" program, where newborns can be dropped off by mothers without being reported to police or prosecuted, can be found at this website: http://www.utahsafehaven.org/Hospitals.html