Mother of newborn baby boy found dead in canal urged to come forward

The mother of a dead newborn baby boy found in a canal has been urged by police to come forward, a week after the incident.

The full-term child was found naked in the water and was “probably not alive” when he was put there, according to West Midlands Police, following the initial results of a post-mortem examination carried out on Wednesday.

The force has already previously said the baby may have been in water for up to four days before being discovered in a nature reserve in Rough Wood country park, Willenhall, in Walsall, on May 20.

Officers leafleting
Officers are leafleting in the area, to raise awareness about the baby’s death (Richard Vernalls/PA)

A week on from the grim find, on Thursday, a makeshift memorial had been created on a nearby canal footbridge.

A handful of teddy bears could be seen in plastic bags, keeping them dry against the recent unseasonal wet weather, placed alongside bunches of flowers.

In a sign of how the baby’s death has affected the local community, a note written to the child, addressed “Dear ?”, read: “I know you’re in heaven but I want you to be happy and live a good life there.”

It added: “I’m so sorry you passed like that and I hope that God looks after you.”

Makeshift memorial
Locals have been affected by the baby’s death, with a makeshift memorial of teddy bears, cuddly toys and flowers, springing up near the scene (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Officers have said they are keen to get the child’s mother medical assistance, and get answers as to how the baby ended up the water.

Detectives are also trying to prick people’s consciences, appealing to those who may know the mother or what has happened to speak to police in confidence.

The child was left in a secluded spot with the towpath leading away from the scene in both directions, making the investigation more complex.

The reserve, bisected by the Wyrley and Essington Canal, is criss-crossed with footpaths leading to nearby residential roads and estates, making it potentially “very difficult” to piece together people’s movements, police said.

Delivering the appeal directly to the child’s mother, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Munro, of West Midlands Police, said: “Again I am appealing directly to Mom to come forward so we can get you the medical help and support that you need – that’s our number one priority.

“Also, I am appealing to people who may have information as regards who Mom is or as to how the little boy has come to be in the canal.

“I am asking you to come forward, whether that be in confidence, and speak with police.”

“We are continuing to work with experts around how the little baby died,” he added.

“We know, from the post-mortem examination, yesterday, that the baby has either died during the birthing process or in the hours that immediately followed.”

DCI Jim Munro
DCI Jim Munro (Richard Vernalls/PA)

“Ultimately, it is our belief at this time he was probably not alive when he went into the water, but whilst further tests are ongoing I cannot give you that as a definitive,” he said.

“At this time, we are going through a long process, trying to establish the medical cause of death.”

He said: “We believe this is birth that has taken place somewhere where mom has not had any kind of medical assistance.

“Again, I am asking people to think about their own consciences, and around mom’s medical needs and speak to the police, in confidence if needs be.”

Appeal
Leaflets are being delivered to nearby homes (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen anything in the week leading up to May 20, to come forward with information – no matter how insignificant it may seem, while a CCTV trawl is well underway.

Describing the circumstances of how the baby was found, Mr Munro said a walker using the towpath noticed the tot in the water, called police at about 1pm, and the youngster was then recovered.

Officers will also be going door-to-door, leafleting, in a bid to raise awareness.

Meanwhile, police are still trying to trace the mother of another baby boy, found abandoned in a park in the Kings Norton area of Birmingham on April 22.

It came after a baby boy, not thought to be full term, was found dead in a Morrison’s supermarket car park in Bilston, in the Black Country, on April 11.

A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with that incident.