A woman left a newborn baby on the doorstep of a Florida apartment with a disturbing message that suggested a possible domestic violence incident, according to local TV station WKMG.
The one-day-old baby was discovered wrapped in a T-shirt at approximately 10am on Saturday, the station reports. Orlando residents allegedly found the child with a note that was purportedly written by the mother.
"It's incomprehensible to me," said Althe Brown, who lives in the building where the baby was found. "I don't know if it's a neighbour or not or if it was just somebody that decided to use this place as their escape."
The letter, which was circulated online, details a hostile living situation.
"Born [at] 5:45 p.m. yesterday, July 19, 2019," part of it reads. "I had him in the bathroom alone. His dad tried to kill us. Please keep him secret and take him to hospital. Dad a very dangerous man. I'm so sorry. I tried to clean him and feed him as much I [could]."
Sgt. Eduardo Bernal of the Orlando Police Department told WKMG that detectives, who have been searching for the mother, are examining the letter. Authorities took the infant, who purportedly appeared to be in good health, to a hospital and notified the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"We're not going to specifically talk about a note being part of this case," Bernal said. "But we are looking into all the circumstances with that."
Under Florida's Safe Haven Law, an unwanted baby up to one week old can be dropped off at a hospital or fire station without any criminal repercussions for the child's parents. Bernal told the station, however, that it appears that the mother in this particular case may have committed a crime by not following the law.
"For this case, it could be child neglect," he said. "In more serious cases where injury comes to the baby or death, it could be aggravated manslaughter. It's very serious. You're talking about a one-day-old infant that can't take care of themselves, there's a lot of medical needs that start when the baby's born, and with the heat wave it's very dangerous, and that's why this [Safe Haven] law was created, to give parents an out, to transfer custody and make sure the baby's taken care of."
Still, Michelle Sperzel ,CEO of the domestic violence shelter Harbor House, told WKMG that the mother's startling note, along with her decision to drop the baby off with a stranger, suggests that the woman may have been very desperate to let her child go.
"We know that domestic violence increases when a woman is pregnant," Sperzel explained. "And also that horrific feeling of if you're feeling in danger and you're feeling that if you stay with the individual that the baby's going to be harmed, that just going to, 'I need to make sure my baby's OK,' that's where I went when I first heard the story."