Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 10, 2013

Tips scarce in abandoned infants case

WELCH — With few leads coming in, law enforcement officers in McDowell County are still seeking witnesses as they search for answers regarding the identity of abandoned newborn twins.

Troopers with the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment are searching for information on two white male newborns who were dropped off in a basket with a note by a young female at a residence in the Verner community of Mingo County shortly after their birth on June 26. The infants were then transported via a third party to Welch Community Hospital.

Trooper B.D. Gillespie of the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment said not many tips have been coming in despite statewide attention to the case.

“We haven’t gotten many leads so far,” Gillespie said. “We are getting a lot of people calling in to ask if we had more information, but not a lot of people are calling in with information for us. We are following up on what we do get.”

Gillespie said the case is fairly unique.

“This is a very rare case,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this in all my time in law enforcement. I can’t think of many cases like this I’ve heard of.”

Gillespie said the twin boys remain in the custody of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and are reportedly “healthy.”

Cathy Wallace, executive director of Child Law Services, Inc. in Princeton, said it is fairly rare to hear of children surrendered by their parents in or out of a hospital or health care setting.

“Child Law’s job is to represent children who are in abuse or neglect situations,” Wallace said. “We do see situations like this where children are surrendered at birth, but it doesn’t happen very often. There are a lot of situations where a person feels they cannot take care of a child and leave them with family. Those are rarely reported to us, so we do not know about them. We do deal with children who are surrendered to hospitals, health care facilities and private homes like in this case.”

Wallace said there is a strict legal process in the state of West Virginia to ensure the well being of children in these situations.

“Once the children are taken to the hospital, the hospital must call the Child Protective Services division of the DHHR within 24 hours,” Wallace said. “CPS will then file a petition for child abandonment. The children will be held in state custody or foster care until they can get a court hearing. These types of cases are usually heard quickly because of the nature of the case. The judge will then rule whether or not it is a true case of abandonment or if the parents need to be looked into more for surrendering the child. Sometimes the judge will also appoint a lawyer or organization like Child Law to oversee the interests of a child.”

Wallace said CPS will handle all issues like medical care and birth certificates usually handled by parents.

“Once CPS has the children in state custody, they take care of medical needs,” Wallace said. “They are able to get the children’s birth certificates, Social Security cards and deal with other issues that may arise.”

Trooper J.R. Coburn with the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment is handling the investigation into the case. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact West Virginia State Police Welch detachment at 304-436-2101.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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