A southwest Atlanta family returned to their Harlan Road home Monday evening to find a surprise awaiting them: an abandoned, hours-old baby girl, her umbilical cord still attached.
Margaret Benton told police she and other family members left the house at 5:30 p.m., and returned an hour later to find the newborn wrapped in a pink “Hello Kitty” blanket.
The family had no idea who the child belonged to, the woman’s grandson, Chance Benton, said.
By Tuesday evening, Atlanta police were no closer to solving the mystery and said the child nicknamed ‘Baby Harlan’ will likely be released from the hospital and into DFCS custody in a couple of days if authorities do not find a relative.
Investigators “don’t have any leads on the mother or any parent at this time, so we’re actively seeking help,” Atlanta police Lt. Celeste Murphy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The baby was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite to be checked out, and is in “good, healthy condition this morning,” Murphy said. “Healthy weight, she was alert, pretty much no health ailments that we know of today. She’s doing well breathing on her own, eating well – a beautiful baby.”
Murphy said police are concerned for the mother’s well-being.
“We have a mother that just had a baby that may not have sought medical attention, and we have a concern about that as well,” Murphy said. “We want to make sure that she seeks medical attention.”
She said officers have canvassed the neighborhood, “interviewing people in the area, seeing if anyone has seen or knows of anyone who might have possibly, just recently birthed a child.”
Murphy said the mother didn’t have to abandon the baby on a stranger’s doorstep.
“Up to seven days old, any child can be left with any medical facility and there are no criminal repercussions for that,” she said.
“So if there’s anyone out there in a similar situation, we want to get the message out to you that there are answers,” Murphy said. “You don’t have to suffer in silence. You can let people know that you just need help with your baby.”
Murphy said she didn’t know if the mother, if located, will face charges.
Police asked that anyone with information on the child or mother call the department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 404-546-4260, or leave an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS.
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