50 States, 50 Babies, 50 Dumpsters


It’s hard to imagine a crime grislier and more depressing than disposing of one’s newborn infant in the trash. Pioneering hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who dealt with all sorts of unpleasant subject matter, zeroed in on the topic in their 1983 single “New York, New York”:

The sky was crying, rain and hail
When you put your baby in the garbage pail
Then you kissed the kid and put down the lid
And you tried to forget what you just did, Huh!
The muffled screams of a dying baby
Was enough to drive the young mother crazy
So she ran in the rain trying to ease the pain
Huh huh, And she drove herself insane

One can rationalize why it happens—poverty, depression, insanity, negligence, or a gruesome sense of entitled irresponsibility—but the practice became so prevalent that most states enacted “Safe Haven” laws that allow parents to drop off their newborn children at places such as hospitals and police stations without legal repercussions.

Most of the following cases involve newborn infants, both living and dead, who were disposed of by their parents, most often their mothers. Not every case involves Dumpsters—yes, the word is capitalized because it’s a brand name—but most involve garbage receptacles of one sort or another. The idea of “Dumpster babies” is so prevalent that it has become a cliché, so I decided to run with it.

1. Alabama

In 2008, a 19-year-old girl in Birmingham reported to police that she delivered a stillborn baby and placed it in a Dumpster.

2. Alaska

In 2013 a female Army Specialist allegedly gave birth to a girl without medical assistance and abandoned it while still alive in a public park north of Anchorage. A dog-walker discovered the infant and notified police. The baby was dead when police arrived.

3. Arizona

Allegedly seeking to hide her pregnancy from her husband—who had undergone a vasectomy five years previously—a 28-year-old woman in Scottsdale, AZ held her newborn baby under water until it was dead, placed it in a plastic bag, and drove with her three children to a gas station, where she dumped the bag into a trash can. The incident happened in 2007.

4. Arkansas

In 2014 in Altheimer, AR, 22-year-old Brittany Cole was accused of arguing with her child’s father about how she no longer wanted to care for her nine-month-old baby, whereupon she ran out of the house and dumped him in a garbage bin.

5. California

In September 2013, a dead baby boy was found in a Dumpster near his mother’s house in South El Monte, CA. When police interviewed the mother, she claimed that she had dropped him off at the hospital rather than dumping him in the garbage, but local hospitals reported “no record of a baby being voluntarily surrendered.”

6. Colorado

In December 2012 in Colorado Springs, a passerby found a dead baby in a trash can with the umbilical cord still attached and its hair “kind of sticky.” The baby was still alive and was apparently still dressed in its blue hospital gown.

7. Connecticut

Early in January 2012 with the streets covered in snow, a dead baby was found in a Dumpster in the town of Huntleigh. It was wrapped in jeans and reportedly placed there by its 13-year-old mother. The Dumpster was only a two-minute drive from a police station, where the baby’s mother could have legally surrendered it while still alive.

8. Delaware

Amy Grossberg and her boyfriend Brian Peterson delivered their baby together in a Comfort Inn motel in Newark, DE one day in November 1996. Peterson threw the baby in a nearby Dumpster and they both wound up serving prison sentences.

9. Florida

In the summer of 2014, Maria Castillo of Brooksville, FL was accused of giving birth to a baby in a shower, then placing it in a trash bag in her bedroom in a way that concealed it from view. When police responded to a 911 call, the infant was already dead.

10. Georgia

During a 12-hour shift in January 2002, a Savannah trash-truck driver spotted a baby’s hands moving around amid garbage in a Dumpster. He saved her mere seconds before lifting the Dumpster and emptying the garbage into the back of his truck, where she would have been squashed to death under 100,000 pounds of pressure.

11. Hawaii

In January 2013 at a park in Honolulu, a man who was collecting recyclables found an infant that had been placed in a box and dumped in a garbage can. The male baby had been “carefully wrapped” in paper towels and the box had been inscribed with the words “love,” “forever,” and the phrase “forget me not.” It is unknown whether it was a stillborn fetus or a baby that had been murdered at birth.

12. Idaho

In October 2000, a 65-year-old man in Idaho Falls discovered a dead infant in a Dumpster behind an apartment complex. The baby’s umbilical cord was still attached. It is thought that the child’s 18-year-old mother had tried to conceal her pregnancy from relatives before she allegedly gave birth and disposed of her spawn.

13. Illinois

Acting on a tip from a doctor, police in 2012 found a prematurely born baby dead in a trash bin at a mall outside Chicago. The infant’s mother allegedly put the infant in a trash bag, placed it in her trunk, went to school, and then disposed of the baby before going to her job at the mall.

14. Indiana

Thirty-two-year old Purvi Patel of Mishawaka, IN, was charged with feticide after she went to a hospital for treatment, claiming she had given birth to child. Hospital workers became suspicious because the child was not with her at the time; it was found in a Dumpster behind a shopping center that included a Babies “R” Us store.

15. Iowa

A resident of the small town of Greenfield found a newborn boy’s corpse in a metal trash can near an alley in 2002. The infant was thought to have been murdered by his mother, a high-school junior.

16. Kansas

When a 17-year-old Wichita girl went to the hospital with unexplained bleeding, workers were able to determine she had given birth a week prior, then placed her infant in a trash can at a local mall.

17. Kentucky

In the summer of 2010, a Louisville woman noticed a large clump of newspaper moving next to a Dumpster. Wrapped inside the newspaper was a live male infant estimated to be around two days old.

18. Louisiana

In February 2014, Joann King of Baton Rouge was sentenced to 12 years in prison after finally admitting to a 2002 incident in which she had given birth, dropped the baby on its head, and disposed of its corpse in a Dumpster. The infant was found with a crushed skull.

19. Maine

A security guard in the town of Castine found a dead infant in a Dumpster behind a dormitory at the Maine Maritime Academy in 1990.

20. Maryland

During the winter of 2012, a woman in the town of Bel Air told police that she’d delivered a stillborn child, wrapped its corpse in a plastic bag, and threw in a Dumpster.

21. Massachusetts

In April of 2006, alleged alcoholic Amanda Harris of Westfield, MA, gave birth to a son in her apartment bathroom, shoved his head into a cereal box, wrapped him in a bath mat, placed him inside two bags, and tossed the bag into a Dumpster. She received a prison sentence of only two and a half years.

22. Michigan

One morning in the Detroit winter of 1963, someone discovered a newborn male infant in a snow-covered Dumpster. The infant was still breathing but was turning blue. When he arrived at the hospital, his body temperature was so low it did not register on thermometers. He survived.

23. Minnesota

Seventeen-year-old Nicole Marie Beecroft in the town of Stillwater gave birth to a daughter in the laundry room of her house, then stabbed her 135 times before disposing of the carcass in a garbage can outside her home. She was found guilty and given a life sentence

24. Mississippi

In early 2014, 25-year-old Cora Watkins allegedly delivered a baby by herself, wrapped him in a blanket, dropped him in a storage shed, and went to work. The baby was found alive by local children who heard it crying. Watkins had previously served jail time for abandoning another one of her infants at a Salvation Army.

25. Missouri

In 2008, a St. Louis man who was emptying yard waste heard an infant’s cries and discovered a newborn baby in a Dumpster. Its umbilical cord was still attached. The baby was taken to a local hospital and given a good prognosis.

26. Montana

In a trash can outside a Billings bowling alley “under a full, cold moon” in March 1999, a live infant was discovered and taken to a local hospital. She survived and was named Grace.

27. Nebraska

A woman in Omaha heard an infant’s cries in May of 2007 and found a black male infant wrapped in two shirts and a “Total Rewards” bag between a Dumpster and a broken television set. The infant, less than a day old, was rushed to a local hospital and survived.

28. Nevada

In October 2013 outside the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino in Las Vegas, workers who were sorting recyclables discovered a dead infant in a Dumpster. It was not known at the time of discovery whether the infant had been born alive or was stillborn.

29. New Hampshire

In the middle of the night in May 2012, a newborn male was dropped off at a hospital in the town of Portsmouth, NH. Police were investigating whether a crime had been committed, since technically hospitals are “safe havens” according to state law. This is perhaps the least grisly case on the entire list, so I’ll compensate by noting that in 2008, police found a dead baby in a black trash bag on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park, MD. Yes, I realize that’s not technically New Hampshire. If you’ve ever visited some of the seedier parts of that tiny New England state, you’d think there’d be a Dumpster baby on every block.

30. New Jersey

In 2013 in Jersey City, teenagers hanging outside an apartment complex heard rustling coming from a Dumpster and discovered a male infant wrapped in a trash bag with tissues stuffed in his nose, presumably to make him suffocate. The baby was covered in garbage and his umbilical cord was still attached. He survived.

31. New Mexico

On November 7, 1947, a group of boys playing in Albuquerque discovered a dead female baby in a box. She had died of exposure. The previous day, another female infant had been discovered in Albuquerque. She had been “strangled and burned in a trash can.”

32. New York

While sorting through garbage in December 2011, a Manhattan apartment-building superintendent discovered a dead male baby. The infant’s 20-year-old mother was charged with “self-abortion” after “reportedly drinking an herbal concoction to end her pregnancy.” She had been carrying the fetus for at least six months and possibly longer.

33. North Carolina

In 2007, a homeless man found the cadaver of a dead male infant who had been born alive and was then murdered, placed inside “a yellow plastic Cheetos bucket,” and discarded in a Dumpster in the town of Rocky Mount.

34. North Dakota

In 1999, Diana Deegan of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation gave birth to a male infant who came to be known as “Baby Moses.” She diapered, dressed, and fed him, then wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a basket. She then left her house and didn’t return until two weeks later, at which point the boy was dead. She then placed him in a suitcase and tossed him in a ditch. Deegan was convicted of second-degree murder and received a prison sentence of ten years and one month.

35. Ohio

In October 2013 the Cleveland mother of a one-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy allegedly told a neighbor that she intended to “duct-tape the kids and was sick of them.” She tossed her female toddler into a garbage can. Police were notified and rescued the child. The mother was arrested all while insisting she was a “good mom.”

36. Oklahoma

In 1991, Oklahoma City resident Gayle Heather Hoey was charged with child abandonment and attempted murder after reportedly placing her male infant—who was less than one hour old—into a garbage bag, tying a double knot, and throwing him in a Dumpster outside an apartment building. A passerby heard the infant’s wails and rescued him, whereupon he was delivered to his father’s custody.

37. Oregon

Late in 2013 a dead six-month-old baby was found in a Dumpster outside a Budget Inn in Gladstone, OR. A man and a woman had checked into the motel with the baby earlier in the week but checked out without the child. A staff member reports finding bloody baby clothing in their room. A motel resident named Jennifer Dalbey claims to have observed the man and woman fighting while at the motel. She interrupted the fight, and after the man left, she says the woman told her, “I wish I could tell you what he did. He’s sick. He’s a sick dude….He killed my baby. He suffocated my baby with blankets.” Dalbey drove the woman to a police station.

38. Pennsylvania

Twenty-year-old Karen Mako, a female college student at Clarion University, gave birth to a male baby in a dormitory shower in October, 2002. She then wrapped him in paper towels, shoved him into a duffel bag, and tossed him into a Dumpster. She was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison.

39. Rhode Island

In the summer of 2002, a Providence woman named Martha Cedeno discovered that a newborn male had been placed in a cardboard box and left in her driveway. She rescued him and delivered him to a local hospital.

40. South Carolina

In Greenville, SC early in 2014, a man noticed a trail of blood leading to a trash can in which had been placed a live newborn male inside a plastic grocery bag that had been wrapped in a pink blanket. The baby’s mother, Sharon Ferguson, was apprehended outside a liquor store and taken in for questioning. Ferguson’s son survived the ordeal, and she was charged with attempted murder.

41. South Dakota

A garbage collector in Rapid City discovered a “suspicious container” inside a Dumpster in the summer of 1999. Inside the container was a dead baby.

42. Tennessee

One morning in October 2013, a pair of joggers in the town of Bartlett discovered a dead infant inside a bag located behind a business Dumpster.

43. Texas

In the spring of 2004, a 24-year-old woman in the town of Durant gave birth to a female infant inside the apartment of a friend. She then placed its corpse in a plastic bag, stored it in a closet for two weeks, and finally threw the remains in a Dumpster.

44. Utah

In May of 1993, a mildly retarded 16-year-old gave birth to a child and placed it inside a trash bin outside a nursing home in the Salt Lake area. She reportedly had been raped nine months earlier.

45. Vermont

In 1996 in the town of Poultney, 18-year-old Eula Dickerson delivered a four-pound male infant in a friend’s dorm room. A student later heard the baby crying in a dormitory wastebasket and rescued him.

46. Virginia

Last May, Richmond police arrested 27-year-old ShaVaughn Robinson and charged her with felony concealment after she allegedly wrapped her newborn girl in plastic and tossed her in a Dumpster. The child was already dead when it was discovered.

47. Washington

State authorities combed through an estimated 60 tons of trash before finally discovering the remains of a baby boy who was thought to have been killed on December 30, 2009 and then dumped in a garbage can by his 16-year-old mother. The trash was picked up day after the infant’s suspected murder and delivered 80 miles from where the infant’s mother was living in Port Angeles.

48. West Virginia

In 1986 a dead male infant with his umbilical cord still attached was found inside a Dumpster at a landfill in Preston County. The police determined it was a homicide.

49. Wisconsin

Mere moments after giving birth in a restaurant bathroom in August 2010, Breanna Gering fetched her baby daughter out of the toilet, placed her in a plastic bag, and went behind the restaurant to dispose of the child in a Dumpster, where she died of asphyxiation. Gering was sentenced to nine years in prison.

50. Wyoming

In April 2014, a Cheyenne woman was charged with murder after she allegedly killed her newborn male infant and tossed him into a ditch.