Newborn baby found dead; Northern California community grieving

After mother is found in remote area, body of missing newborn discovered in Yolo County

Investigators are puzzled over the death of a baby, believed to be the newborn whose disappearance prompted a frantic search in Northern California.

The body of a baby was found about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the south bank of Ridge Crest Slough near Knights Landing, a community along the Sacramento River, said Capt. Larry Cecchettini of the Yolo County’s Sheriff’s Department. 

Authorities have not positively identified the baby. They will likely obtain medical records and a footprint of the baby to identify him, but the missing infant’s mother identified her son as 20-day-old Justice Rees.

The Yolo County coroner’s office will determine the cause of the infant’s death.

The infant’s family gathered outside the sheriff’s department on Wednesday and prayed. Grieving family and friends planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday in Woodland, according to KCRA.

Authorities say the infant’s mother, 23-year-old Samantha Green, was spotted about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday near the edge of town “crying and hysterical.” She was transported to a nearby hospital.

A witness told Fox 40 on Tuesday the woman was abducted.

“All she can remember was that she was abducted here in town,” Richard Villasenior said. “She was pretty bruised up and scratched up. She says she’s been out there for about two days.”

But investigators are still unclear what happened and how the infant and his mother ended up in the remote, wooded area, he said. Sheriff’s officials say foul play was not immediately suspected, but detectives will be investigating the puzzling circumstances that led to the infant’s death.

Green and her baby were reported missing Monday from Woodland, a town 15 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Authorities said Green was unfamiliar with the area and wasn’t able to tell deputies where she had been. She was only able to tell deputies that the baby previously had been with her near the slough.

They found a vehicle connected to Green in a residential area just west of the slough.

Using a helicopter and search dogs, nearly 100 volunteers and deputies searched throughout the night for her child.

The following morning, a marine patrol search and rescue unit found the infant in an area with thick undergrowth.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


4:10 p.m.: This post has been updated to add that the baby has not yet been positively ID'd by authorities.

3:54 p.m.: This post has been updated with new information throughout. 

It was first published at 11:06 a.m.