Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 9, 2013

Infants in state custody

WELCH — Troopers with the  West Virginia State Police are seeking information from the public regarding the identity of abandoned newborn twins.

Trooper J.R. Coburn, with the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment, said troopers are asking for members of the public to come forward with information relating to two white male newborns that were dropped off at a residence in a community near Gilbert in Mingo County hours after their birth on June 26. Witnesses reported seeing a young female — possibly the mother of the twins — in the vicinity before the children were abandoned.

“A good Samaritan then took them to Welch Community Hospital,” Coburn said. “The woman was at her residence and heard her dogs barking. When she went out to investigate she saw a female there with the basket. The female told her ‘I don’t want them’ and then fled before she could ask her any further questions. There was a note in the basket asking that the babies be taken to Welch Community Hospital. We believe they were born outside of a medical facility.”

Coburn said the newborns were transported to Welch Community Hospital rather than Mingo County’s Williamson Memorial Hospital because of the note left with them.

“We are still investigating why they were brought to Welch instead of another hospital,” Coburn said. “The individual who brought them in indicated she brought them to Welch because of the note. She thought there might be a reason the parents wanted them brought to Welch.”

Now, Coburn said troopers are working to track down the identity of the newborns’ parents.

“We are trying to figure out who the parents are because we need parental information for medical purposes and things like Social Security numbers and birth certificates,” Coburn said. “We hope someone will recognize a friend or someone they knew that was pregnant or had given birth and no longer has children. Often times, these are situations with young mothers, especially teenagers.”

Coburn said the infants are currently in state custody.

“They are healthy as far as we know,” Coburn said. “They are currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Resources.”

Coburn said it is “too early to tell” if the parents of the infants will face charges as the babies were abandoned at a residence and not at a hospital or medical facility. However, Coburn said the state’s “Safe Haven Law” would not apply in this case as the parents left the children at a third-party residence rather than at a hospital or health care facility.

Under West Virginia’s Safe Haven Laws, a parent may anonymously turn over a child to a hospital or health care facility within 30 days of the child’s birth. The hospital or health care facility must then turn the child over to the child protective services division of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources before the close of the first business day after the child has been left.

Coburn said troopers are continuing to follow up on leads in the case as they come in.

“We have a few leads we are following up on,” Coburn said. “There are a lot of things we have to check out or confirm.”

Coburn is leading the investigation and said anyone with information about the parents or the infants is encouraged to contact the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment at 304-436-2101.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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