A teen mother kept her pregnancy a secret from family and friends, gave birth to a baby girl at home and kept the infant’s body hidden for about a month before disposing of it in a central valley apartment complex trash bin, Las Vegas police said Thursday.
A maintenance worker for Rancho Mesa apartments, 2881 N. Rancho Drive, found the baby’s body early Wednesday morning.
It is not yet known how the baby died. The Clark County coroner’s office is working to determine the cause of death. One possibility is that the baby was stillborn. Another is that it died shortly after its birth.
Police have not identified or charged the mother. They also have not specified whether she lives in the Rancho Mesa complex, near the North Las Vegas Airport.
Wednesday evening, residents gathered to place candles and a flowered cross against the brick enclosure that surrounded the trash bins between apartment buildings 7 and 8.
On Thursday, two small, stuffed animals had been added to the makeshift memorial. The latest news left residents wondering why a mother would leave her baby’s body in the trash.
Joel Acosta, 47, smoked a cigarette on his porch. He had watched police cars come and go Wednesday morning. Now he knows why.
He figured the young mother must have been scared. She should have to suffer the consequences if she played a part in the child’s death, he added.
"If she killed the baby, she’s got to confess," Acosta said. "She’s got to be punished for that. She’s got to go to counseling and all that stuff. You can’t do that to a baby."
After the body was found Wednesday morning, Las Vegas police told reporters the baby was believed to be between 3 and 6 months old. Police on Thursday revised the baby’s age, saying the female infant was a newborn.
As such, the state’s Safe Haven Law could have provided relief to the mother. If the teen mother was not able to care for the child, and if the child wasn’t stillborn, she could have been left with an emergency service provider within 30 days of birth in accordance with the Nevada law passed in 2001.
Rancho Mesa resident Todd Bruns, 29, tried to imagine how hard it would be to keep pregnancy a secret. He said everyone knew when his daughter was pregnant three years ago. He had a hard time believing the young mom who disposed of her baby was the only one who knew.
"Somebody had to have known she was pregnant," Bruns said. "Somebody had to have seen that she was pregnant."
Contact Ben Frederickson at email@example.com or 702-224-5512.