The newborn girl found dead in a pond in Sterling's CountrySide neighborhood yesterday was full term, according to a preliminary investigation by the medical examiner's office.
Sheriff Mike Chapman released today that the baby was 20 inches long and weighed about 7 pounds when it was found. It is believed the baby was in the water for no more than "a couple days," Chapman said. The baby has been determined to be Caucasian or possibly Hispanic.
Investigators with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office are working to determine what happened to the baby and whom her parents are, canvassing both the neighborhood around the pond beginning yesterday and working with Loudoun County Public Schools, Child Protective Services and the School Resource Officers.
"We’re working with Child Protective Services and our School Resource Officers to try and identify any expectant mother who may have been distressed about her situation," Chapman said Sunday.
Liz Mills, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said emergency personnel were called to the scene around 11:42 a.m. Sunday when someone walking by saw the baby girl floating in the pond. She was unwrapped and found floating just under the water near the bank of the pond. Monday morning bouquets of flowers had been placed just off the path that leads from the neighborhood streets.
Chapman said Sunday that it appeared the baby was born "outside of a hospital setting," something that was confirmed by the medical examiner's preliminary report. According to the ME, it appears it was a "home birth," Chapman said, noting that was the phrase used by the medical examiner. No other details about the potential circumstances surrounding the birth or the baby's death are available.
Chapman did confirm there was no apparent trauma to the baby.
"The medical examiner at this point has not been able to determine whether the baby was stillborn or not," he said. "There didn't appear to be any food in her gastric system either."
Because the baby had not eaten, it is believed she died at or around the time of birth, but her exact age has not been determined.
Chapman said he asked the medical examiner if there was any water in the baby's lungs, indicating it was breathing and alive when it went into the water, but that the medical examiner could not make that determination "because of the state the body was in."
Chapman and Commonwealth's Attorney James Plowman have declined to speculate as to whether the baby was born alive or what potential punishments could be waiting for the mother if she were to come forward.
"What the investigation is about is finding the truth," Plowman said Monday.
Chapman made similar statements Sunday afternoon. "The question is whether the baby ever took a breath, or if anything that might have happened, happened after that," he said.
Chapman said his team is reaching out to as many people as possible to try and identify the baby and her mother.
"Anybody that might have any information of an expectant mother that is distressed about her situation is asked to contact us," he said. "The mother might be in need of medical attention herself from having a baby outside of the hospital."
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office can be reached at its non-emergency number 703-777-1021. Anyone with information of the mother's identity or who saw anything in the area of Awsley Court is asked to contact Investigator S. Petrakos at 703-777-0475.