Abandoned, dead newborn sparks awareness of Safe Haven law

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 29, 2014)-- Authorities are still trying to find the person responsible for abandoning a newborn baby girl who was found dead on the city's northwest side.

A hiker found the baby in a wooded area Sunday afternoon at Eagle Creek Park.

She was wrapped in a blue sweatshirt with an "Aviation Maintenance, Vincennes University - Indianapolis" logo. Indianapolis Metropolitan police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

The case is bringing attention to Indiana's Safe Haven law, which allows someone to drop off a newborn,  younger than 30 days old, at any emergency room, police station, or fire station without fear of legal consequences.

A Pike Township fire station is less than two miles from where the baby girl was found.

A similar situation sparked another local fire department to take action a few months ago.

"It's no questions asked. Nobody's going to judge anybody. We realize people get in tough situations," said Captain Michael Pruitt with Wayne Township Fire Department.

Pruitt said the news Sunday brings back tough memories for his department.

"To have that happen right across from the fire station when it did, really hit hard with the crews there," he said.

In August, 22-year-old Briana Holland gave birth while at work at an industrial site on the west side and put the baby boy in a trash can. The site is steps away from a Wayne Township Fire Station, where she could've handed over the child.

According to court documents, another worker later found the newborn barely breathing, with toilet paper wrapped tightly around its neck. Luckily, the child survived. Holland faces attempted murder and other charges.

"All we can do is keep putting the message out, keep putting the message out until people pay attention," said Pruitt.

Pruitt said the department ordered safe haven signs for all its stations, sparked by that incident a few months ago.

Two Pike Township fire stations are near the site where the child was found in Eagle Creek Park. It's an option that wasn't pursued.

"The thing that really plagues us and troubles us in the particular instance is that people have a fear of being arrested. Often times, they cannot separate the fact that 'Hey, I don't want this child, maybe I'll get arrested. Maybe some sort of legal judgment will be available to me,' but that's not the case," said Officer Christopher Wilburn with IMPD.

People who leave a child under the Safe Haven Law don't have to provide any identifying information, so long as the child shows no signs of abuse.

As for the woman charged back in August, online court records show her trial date to be in March 2015.