A 30-year-old mother has been arrested, as officers search for her newborn baby that may have been abandoned after birth, near the Willow Bend Apartments off Silver Star Road in Orlando.
Susan Richardson, 30, is charged with aggravated child neglect. She didn’t respond to any questions from reporters about the baby’s whereabouts, as she was being dropped off by police at the Orange County Jail Tuesday night.
Police released her photo and are asking anyone who may have seen the woman by the Willow Bend Apartments between 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).
Investigators said just after 3 p.m. Monday, officers responded to the complex, located along Silver Star Road, after someone found a possible placenta in the parking lot.
However, the public was not alerted about the newborn baby until Tuesday morning.
“We were still investigating it and trying to figure out exactly what happened. Last night, this basically started out with just residents finding a placenta, so we worked up to finally contacting the mother,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina explained.
“Baby Willow is a newborn infant. It’s impossible for that newborn infant to survive in this world without the proper care she needs. It’s very important, that’s why our detectives are working around the clock to find her. Find out what exactly happened after the mother gave birth to Baby Willow,” Chief Mina continued.
“I heard that a young woman had a baby and that she left it in the bushes," said Lucia Jones, a neighbor. “That’s horrible. Knowing that she just had a baby, she could’ve given it up for adoption.”
Rumors swirled around the complex as homicide detectives and crime scene investigators arrived. They later determined that a full-term baby had been born and discarded.
OPD said they contacted Search and Rescue of Central Florida, who responded to the area with four search dogs — a bloodhound, two cadaver dogs and one scent dog — and 14 trained searchers to canvas the area.
Investigators scoured dumpsters in the area, looking for the baby, yet the child was nowhere to be found. They still don’t know whether the baby is alive as they carry on their search.
Orlando Police later identified the mother, Richardson, and said she admitted to giving birth to a baby girl. While the woman has been cooperative with police, they said she was vague, leaving out key details which would aid them in their search for “Baby Willow.”
“Once we were able to identify her, the story wasn’t complete. We just know that there’s a timeframe that we cannot account for," Ford said.
“Just a simple walk to the nearest fire station could have had an entirely different outcome for this mother and for that newborn infant as well. There’s alternatives and that’s why the law exists,” explained Oviedo Fire Chief Lars White, who is a member of the Safe Haven For Newborns Seminole County Chapter.
Chief White said the Safe Haven For Newborns law can save lives and avoid criminal charges if followed.
“Since the law was passed in 2000, 236 newborns have been surrendered in our state,” White added.
At this time, Richardson is being held without bond at the Orange County Jail.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said a massive search effort is planned for Wednesday.