Police in North Vernon, Indiana, are seeking the public's help in locating the mother of an infant abandoned at Christ's Way Christian Church.
"I've been a police officer for over 15 years, and we’ve never dealt with anything like this," said Sgt. Andrew Richmond of the North Vernon Police Department.
Richmond said the pastor's wife found the newborn on the ground near the trash outside the church. The child was about 12 hours old, cleaned up and wrapped in several coats. Investigators reported that the child appears to have been delivered full-term and in good health.
The infant is in good condition at Columbus Regional Hospital, but is being treated for an infection, reports Fox 59 News. Police say the child's mother may have the same infection, which could be life-threatening if not treated quickly.
Indiana’s Safe Haven Law allows a parent, relative, friend, minister, social worker or any responsible person to give up a baby less than 30 days old anonymously and without prosecution at a hospital emergency room, fire station or police station. Churches are not approved under the law, as they are not staffed 24 hours a day and do not have resources to attend to children's health.
"One of the specific things about the safe haven law is the places picked for the law ensure the baby’s going to be discovered in a very short amount of time," explained Richmond.
Angeline Denney, the pastor's wife who found the child, posted a statement on the church's Facebook page: "I want to encourage everyone to extend grace and mercy to the people for whom this law was created. Parenting is exhausting, demanding work which can easily overwhelm anyone. If we truly want to save the lives of children, then we must also make it 'safe' for distressed parents to utilize the Safe Haven Law."
Investigators said it's imperative to locate the mother, given new information about the infant's infection and the possibility she could be charged.
Anyone with information can contact the North Vernon Police Department, anonymously or otherwise.