Baby found dead off road near Wheaton
Editor's note: DNA and other tests are being performed in an effort to identify the baby's mother. Click here for the latest.
A baby found dead in an unincorporated area near Wheaton Monday may have been abandoned there Sunday evening, neighbors say.
DuPage County officials confirmed they are investigating the death of an infant discovered off Plamondon Road in an unincorporated area northwest of Danada. They would release no further details.
Neighbors reported seeing a black backpack in the roadway of a private drive -- which leads to several homes situated on large, wooded lots -- possibly as early as Sunday evening.
Landscapers discovered the baby sometime Monday about three feet away from the private road in a wooded area, neighbors said. Found with two blankets, the baby was swollen and blue, and neighbors say it wasn't clear what age and sex the baby might be.
A heavy police presence gathered about 3 p.m. Monday. Kip Schwytzer lives down the road from where the baby was found.
"It's very upsetting," she said. "I don't know what would cause somebody to dispose of a baby that way, but it's certainly very upsetting to hear."
Stella, a woman who lives across the street from where the baby was found, said she noticed the black backpack lying on the side of the private drive when she left for work around 9 a.m. Monday. At first, she assumed it was something left behind by some teens, since sometimes she'll find them leaving trash and beer bottles in the area. But when she returned home around 3 p.m. police were lining the private drive and refusing to let her drive up to her home.
"Nobody knew anything for a long time," she said, adding that police told her a homicide had occurred. "The bottom line is there was a baby, a blanket and a bag."
She said the baby had dark hair, looked swollen and blue, and had red markings around its knees.
"I don't think even now I have digested in my mind that this is true or that there was a baby here," she said.
Schwytzer said her home is in a nice neighborhood and she finds it hard to believe someone living nearby would be responsible for the baby's death.
"It's never easy to hear. I'll hug my son a little bit closer tonight. That's all I can do."
One neighbor laid flowers near the location to honor the baby.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday by the DuPage County coroner's office. DuPage County sheriff's officials say anyone with information should call the sheriff's department at (630) 407-2400.
Dawn Geras, founder of the Save Abandoned Babies organization, said this tragedy should not have happened. The Baby Safe Haven law allows people to hand over a baby under 30 days old to the staff at any hospital, police or fire station, no questions asked, she said by email.
"Walk away and remain anonymous," she wrote. "You and your baby will be safe."
As of this year, 3,227 babies have been safely surrendered to safe havens, Geras' organization reports.
Geras encouraged anyone in a similar situation to call (888) 510-2229 for help or go to SaveAbandonedBabies.org for more information.
In June 2009, a newborn baby boy was found alive under a bush by a man walking his dog near Crescent Street. The baby's mother, Nunu Sung, secretly gave birth to the boy outdoors near a garage before placing the naked baby under a neighbor's bush.
Sung, 27, later pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for lying to investigators about the birth and spent more than two years in prison.