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Infant Found Abandoned; Another Discovered Dead

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police were searching Thursday for the parents of two abandoned baby boys: a healthy infant zipped inside a duffel bag and left in a Westlake district parking lot and a dead newborn found in a Harbor City trash dumpster.

The live child, who was described by police as 4 months old and “bright-eyed, cute and responsive,” was the 13th abandoned child found alive in Los Angeles County this year, a County Department of Children’s Services spokeswoman said.

Until this year, there had been an average of 12 abandoned children a year, said department spokeswoman Ray La Motte, who attributed this year’s higher rate to homelessness and parental drug use.

Police said they have not yet determined the cause of death of the boy who was found in a dumpster on West 259th Street in Harbor City.

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An autopsy is scheduled for today, said Los Angeles Police Detective Howard Beardsley.

The dead baby, whom police described as Anglo or Hispanic, was found about 11 a.m. Wednesday by a man searching for aluminum cans.

Beardsley said the infant, who was unclothed but showed no signs of abuse, “may have been stillborn, but we can’t be sure he wasn’t alive when placed in there until an autopsy.”

In the case of the live infant, residents near the parking lot at 6th Street and Westmoreland Avenue found the baby early Thursday morning after being awakened by his crying, Police Lt. Robert Normandie said.

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The baby was wrapped in a blanket inside a zipped-up canvas duffel bag that contained spare diapers and a baby bottle, said Officer John Cordova.

He said the baby had medium black skin and a small scrape on the left cheek.

The baby was placed in a Van Nuys foster home pending efforts to identify him, said the children’s services spokeswoman.

Most of the increase in child abandonment cases involves newborns, she said, “and almost always the parents are using drugs.”

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She said that newborns also are the most difficult to identify because “often there isn’t a relative who can recognize the baby from a news photo.” In some cases, she said, the mother has hidden the baby’s birth from relatives and neighbors.

But with an infant 2 months or older, “someone who knows the baby almost always comes forward” to identify the child.

Photographs of the baby found Thursday will be released today, La Motte said.

“I would be very surprised, given the cared-for condition we found him in, if some relative doesn’t identify the baby,” La Motte said.

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