Body of infant found in Oildale dumpster

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The body of an infant has been discovered in an Oildale neighborhood dumpster. Sheriff homicide detectives are investigating, and working on tips and leads coming in from the public and the neighborhood.

"I went out to get my trash can," Reggie Groves told Eyewitness News. "I grabbed the can and started walking off with it and it felt like there was something in there." Groves said he doesn't see that well, and peered in to get a look.

"I thought I saw a belly button cord, so I freaked out and went and woke my daughter up and told her, 'Can you please come look at this,'" Groves said.

Melissa Groves said her dad thought it could have been a doll. But, she knew immediately it was a baby. "It was dark and bruised, and it was a very big, healthy baby," the daughter said. "And once I saw the umbilical cord I knew it was a real baby." They immediately called 911.

Kern County Sheriff's homicide detectives were called to Beardsley Avenue, near South Oildale Drive, around 6:11 a.m. Friday, according to sheriff's office spokesman Ray Pruitt.

They checked the trash can, and taped off the area, and confirmed it was a baby's body. Detectives believe the infant was no more than a few days old and had not been in the dumpster for more than 48 hours.

Reggie Groves thinks the baby must have been put in the trash can just few hours before he found it. His neighbor had checked his trash can on Thursday morning. "She started to grab it, she said it was empty, and just left it," he said. "So that was yesterday at 10."

Pruitt said it's his understanding that the child was not wrapped in anything, and he would not confirm the baby's gender. But, the Groves both said the infant was a girl. And, while they think the baby was injured or bruised, sheriff officials would not comment on that.

The sheriff's department said an autopsy of the baby is planned for Monday, June 24 to determine the cause of death.

Neighbors in the area said they hadn't seen anything unusual, and they were shocked by the discovery of the baby.

Leanne Peterson says the mother should have taken the baby someplace safe, she suggested a church. "It's sad," she continued. "Being that there's a fire station down the street, there's hospitals on almost every corner around here." Those are actually special places designated by law.

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law is meant to save the lives of newborns at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents or people with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked, at a fire station or hospital emergency room. Thirty-three babies have been safely surrendered in Kern County since the local coalition began tracking those babies in 2006, officials said Friday.

The Groves were very upset about finding the baby. Reggie Groves wondered if someone will step forward to bury the infant's body, and he also asked to have the trash can removed -- and a new one brought out.

His daughter has troubling questions.

"How can somebody do that to a life, just throw it in a trash can?" Melissa Groves asks. "I hope they find the person who did that."

Kern County Sheriff investigators ask anyone with information to call their office at 661-861-3110, or Secret Witness at 661-322-4040. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411)

"I can't understand why anybody could do that, I just can't," neighbor Sue Foster said. "That poor little baby didn't even get a start in life. Why would they do that?"