Seeking answers for baby found in trash: 'poor child has no voice'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Investigators are getting leads in the case of an infant's body found in a trash can in Oildale, but they need more information. Meanwhile, neighbors along Beardsley Avenue believe somebody must have seen something, and they hope tips come in that lead to answers.

The baby girl's body was found early last Friday morning by a man who was bringing his trash can in from the curb in the 500 block of Beardsley. Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said the investigation is ongoing, as they hope for more leads.

"Somebody in the community knows this baby," Pruitt said. "Somebody in the community knows a female that was recently pregnant and is not pregnant any more, and doesn't have a baby."

The case hits a nerve. On Tuesday afternoon, young Christopher Dennis Tate rode his scooter up to a makeshift memorial of stuffed toys left along a fence where the trash can sat. He added two items to the memorial.

"I brought the reindeer and the Santa Claus," he told Eyewitness News. "The little girl that was found in the dumpster, it was close to my house. So, I did it to be nice."

Investigators said the baby was probably full term and likely no more than a several days old when the body was put in the trash can. Pruitt said officers believe the baby had been left there for a day at most.

But, there's very little evidence for investigators to go on.

"We did a thorough canvass through the entire neighborhood, we went door-to-door, literally for blocks," Pruitt said.

The man who found the body told Eyewitness News the infant could have been injured.

"It could be bruises, or bruised head to toe," Reggie Groves said on Friday. "It was just black completely."

On Tuesday, Pruitt confirmed the infant showed "obvious signs of trauma."

Monday, the coroner's office did an autopsy on the baby but said more studies are needed to determine the cause of death.

Some neighbors are planning a vigil to honor the baby.

"It really broke me and my wife's heart," Steven Peterson said. He's one of the organizers of the vigil that'll be held at Beardsley and South Oildale Drive, slated to start at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Peterson said the goal is to bring awareness to the Safely Surrender program.

"We need these girls to understand that there's people out there that have the means to take care of these babies, and would take care of these babies if they would just put them in the appropriate places," he said.

But, Peterson also hopes someone comes forward with information about this child.

"I think that anybody that saw anything, or knows anything, they really need to step up and say something," he said. "This poor child has no voice."

Anyone with information can call the Kern County Sheriff's Office at (661) 861-3110 or call Secret Witness at 322-4040. Anonymous text tips can also be sent to TIP411 (847411).

"We're continuing to get tips from the community, but we need that information to keep coming in," Pruitt urged. And, he said he thinks this is the type of investigation that will prompt action from the public.

"This is the kind of case that tugs at the heart strings," he said.

Christopher is an example of just that. Not only did the youngster bring two of his own toys to the baby's memorial, he plans to keep up his own vigil.

"Every day I'm going to come over here and just look at it," he said. Christopher lives around the corner from where the infant's body was found.

"Yeah," he said. "I'll be coming over every day."