Crime scene tape is left on a fence a day after the body of a decomposing baby was found in a North Long Beach alley, near the Artesia 91 Freeway/Cherry Avenue offramp. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
The decomposing body of an infant was found in a North Long Beach alley Tuesday evening, Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officials confirmed early Wednesday morning.
Officers were originally called to an alley near 67th Street and Gardenia Avenue at 4:22PM on Tuesday, February 23 to assist the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) regarding the body of a burned infant, LBPD spokesman Brad Johnson said.
"The deceased infant was found by neighborhood residents who were walking in an alley where 67th Street and Gardenia Avenue meet," said Johnson. "The infant was among some cardboard boxes and debris."
Homicide detectives at the scene determined the baby was not burned, but in a stage of decomposition that would give the body that appearance, according to Johnson.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also shared his thoughts on Twitter Wednesday regarding the incident.
I'm incredibly saddened and angry about the infant body found in North Long Beach. Bless that little soul.— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) February 24, 2016
Though the age of the infant has not yet been determined, County Supervisor Don Knabe told the Post the incident validates the importance of the Safe Surrender program he initiated 14 years ago.
Under that program, mothers can surrender infants no more than three days old at any fire or police station, or hospital, as long as there are no signs of abuse.
“This is just horrific,” Knabe said of the incident. “And [it] shows you how important that program is and also shows you the courage of 142 mothers who did the right thing,” referring to the number of infants surrendered since the program began.
Knabe said officials have revamped the program by promoting it in multiple languages and running public services ads in the middle of the night.
“These people are in a very desperate situation and it's hard for me or you to understand that somebody is so desperate that they didn't have a friend or a family member they could go to and say “Hey, I need help,” Knabe said. “Let’s do the right choice for the baby; no shame, no name, no blame and mom doesn't get in trouble and the baby gets a loving family.”
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Garcia reminded the public of the Safe Surrender program and thanked Knabe for his role in establishing the program while continuing to advocate for the health and safety of newborns.
"Every child deserves the chance to grow up healthy and safe," Garcia stated.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office will determine the cause of death, approximate age and race of the infant, officials said.
The investigation remains ongoing and police are asking for the public’s help. If anyone is aware of someone who was recently pregnant, but is no longer in that condition, and is not caring for an infant, the LBPD would like to speak with them.
Anyone with information is urged to call Homicide Detectives Peter Lackovic, Sean Irving, or Oscar Valenzuela at 562.570.7244. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call 1.800.222.TIPS (8477), or text TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), or visit http://www.lacrimestoppers.org/.
This story was updated at 11:48AM with a Tweet from Mayor Robert Garcia.
This story was updated at 2:23PM with a statement from Garcia.