⚪ Newborn’s body found in NJ nearly 40 years ago

⚪ Police have finally ID’ed parents of ‘Baby Mary’

⚪ Sheriff points to Safe Haven law, passed years after baby’s death

MENDHAM — Law enforcement announced a breakthrough in the decades-old mystery of a newborn’s remains found in the township.

Two boys fishing the morning of Christmas Eve 1984 near Mount Pleasant Road found a trash bag with the abandoned child wrapped in a towel, her umbilical cord still attached.

The Medical Examiner determined the infant had been alive at the time of birth and her death was ruled a homicide.

A DNA sample was taken years ago and “Baby Mary” has since been buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery, where police have helped remember her death with an annual graveside ceremony.

Morris County Prosecutor, Baby Mary case arrest (Morris County via Youtube)
Morris County Prosecutor, Baby Mary case arrest (Morris County via Youtube)

⚪ Alleged birth mother of dead baby charged as juvenile

On Thursday, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office announced that the newborn’s mother was arrested in South Carolina in April.

She has now been charged as a juvenile with manslaughter.

The woman was 17 at the time that the newborn died, so prosecutors have not released the defendant’s name, treating her as if she were still a juvenile.

Baby Mary death arrest Mendham
(Canva, Townsquare Media)

DNA results also helped identify the father of the baby, prosecutors said.

The man — who died in 2009 — was 19 at the time of the baby’s birth.

He reportedly was unaware of the child and was not involved in the girl’s death, officials said.

Baby Mary gravesite (Mendham Police Department via Facebook)
Baby Mary gravesite (Mendham Police Department via Facebook)

In 2014, the community held a special effort to mark what would have been the baby’s roughly 30th birthday. 

The baby was baptized posthumously by the Rev. Michael Drury of St. Joseph Church, the Mendham Township Police Department chaplain.

“The death and abandonment of this baby girl is a tragic loss and even after nearly 40 years, remains just as heartbreaking. Justice may not take the form the public has imagined all these years, but we believe with this juvenile delinquency complaint, justice is being served for Baby Mary,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll said on Thursday.

He thanked the multiple generations and levels of law enforcement who have worked on the case — at the municipal, county and state levels — as well as the FBI and police in South Carolina and Florida.

Mt. Pleasant Road, Mendham (Google Maps)
Mt. Pleasant Road, Mendham (Google Maps)

⚪ Safe Haven Infant Protection law helps avoid such tragedy in NJ

Morris County Sheriff James Gannon also stressed that the state’s current Safe Haven Infant Protection law has given new parents a way to safely surrender newborns.

“The legislation allows parents or their representatives to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid, or rescue squads that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Gannon said.

The law allows for anonymous surrender of newborns up to a month old who are not abused.

It now also includes the option for a mother to surrender a baby after giving birth at a hospital.

Anyone with information regarding the case was encouraged to contact the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 973-285-6192, the Mendham Township Police Department at 973-455-1700, or Morris County Sheriff’s CrimeStoppers at 973-267-2255.

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