A 15-year-old girl, bleeding from having just given birth, walked into the emergency room at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and said she was in pain and needed help.
Emergency personnel began treating the girl Sunday and asked the obvious question: Where is the baby? When the young mother was evasive, police were called. The teen-ager then told officers where to find her newborn son--wrapped in a paper bag and dropped into a flood-control channel. When police arrived at the location, the baby was dead.
"His body was still warm to the touch," Lt. Jay Farrand said Monday. "But he was dead."
Police said the mother was arrested on suspicion of murder. The child's 17-year-old father, who said he was not present when the child was dropped in the channel but took the mother to the hospital afterward, was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment, police said.
Police declined to release the names of the teen-age parents, both high school students, because they are juveniles. The girl was placed in the custody of juvenile authorities with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, Farrand said. The father was released into the custody of his mother, Farrand said.
An autopsy was pending, but Farrand said there were bruises on the infant's body believed to have come from his being "thrown or dropped" into the concrete channel near Lake Street and Providencia Avenue.
"It's about a 15-foot drop," Farrand said. "He was found in a paper bag at the bottom of the channel in about three inches of water."
The investigation began shortly after the mother, accompanied by the father, walked into the hospital about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Farrand said. It was obvious to emergency-room workers that the girl had just given birth, he said.
"But she was trying to hide the fact that she had had a baby," Farrand said. "She became very evasive."
When police were called to interview the teen-agers, the girl acknowledged that she had given birth and told police the location of the baby.
"The mother is alleging that she pushed the baby into the channel," Farrand said.
The girl delivered the child alone on the kitchen floor of her home, police said. She then called the father and told him to pick her up at the nearby intersection of Lake and Providencia because she had to go to the hospital, police said they were told. When he picked her up, she no longer had the child, the father told police.
No report was available on the mother's condition.