After the discovery of a deceased baby girl in a backpack on August 15th, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office has been searching for her parents, utilizing DNA forensic analysis as a tool to assemble composite sketches of her parents.
A landscaper found a backpack on Plamnondon Road in Wheaton, 2.2 miles away fromsouthwest of the Wheaton College campus. Upon looking in the backpack, the landscaper discovered a full-term baby girl. The authorities were contacted and confirmed that the the baby was deceased. No one has stepped forward to claim the baby girl, whose cause of death has remained undetermined. A cross with the words “Baby Doe” was placed on the side road that the baby girl was found on. Members of the Wheaton community have left flowers near the cross in memory of the unknown child.
The DNA forensic analysis has been helpful in determining the baby as originating from Latino descent. The DNA analysis also provided details on the girl’s mother, revealing that the mother would have been taking Lamotrigine, a medication used for the treatment of epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder or sleeping disorders. The composite sketches of the parents were shared to shed new light on the case and to jog the memory of people who may have unknowingly been in contact with the parents.
The police have consistently been calling out to the community for any information on a woman who was once pregnant and does not have her child or has disappeared altogether. Unfortunately, the DuPage Co. Sheriff’s Office has been unable to locate the mother or the father.
The DuPage Co. Sheriff’s Office named the baby “Baby Hope” on August 18th to emphasize the hope that the authorities would be able to find her parents. A non-for-profit organization called “Rest in His Arms” hosted a candlelight vigil for Baby Hope on Thursday, September 15th at St. Michael Parish. Rest in His Arms hopes to offer Christian funerals and burials for babies that have been abandoned.
The DuPage Co. Sheriff’s Office also released a statement on Thursday, Sept. 15 “to remind the public of the Newborn Infant Protection Act, also known as Safe Haven.” The Sheriff’s Office further explained that this law allows individuals to give their newborn infant over to personnel at a police station, fire station or hospital without repercussions. The DuPage Co. Sheriff’s Office is also a Safe Haven location.
A month after the original discovery of Baby Hope, the authorities and the Wheaton community joined together to bury her on September 22, 2016 at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Wheaton. According to the Chicago Tribune, about forty people attended the funeral service of Baby Hope, placing flowers around her little, white coffin as it was lowered into the ground. In a press release, the DuPage Co. Sheriff’s Office reminded the public that “Hope had no choice in what happened to her” and that they are using every resource available to them, including the composite sketches and DNA analysis, to identify her parents.