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Police investigating death of fetus

September 23, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A woman who had just given birth showed up at Washington County Hospital Sunday with no child, prompting an investigation that led to the discovery of a dead fetus at the woman's West End home.

"We're not sure exactly what we have yet ... a crime or a tragedy," said Lt. Rick Johnson of the Hagerstown City Police.

The fetus appeared to be six to seven months, judging by its size and development. It was a boy, Johnson said. A fetus is described as a human offspring from three months to birth.

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It was found wrapped up and hidden in the kitchen of the home on Wakefield Road, Johnson said.

"It was obviously deceased," Johnson said.

Johnson described the mother as a 25-year-old who lives in the home with her other children. The identity of the woman is being withheld until police determine whether a crime was committed.

"We understand the mother is OK and still at the hospital," Johnson said Sunday night.

When the woman showed up at the hospital, the umbilical cord and placenta were still apparent, he said.

A friend came to see the woman Sunday morning and found her in obvious need of medical care, Johnson said. He drove her to the hospital.

Initially the hospital called the Maryland State Police, who began an investigation but handed the case over to city police shortly before 5 p.m. when they realized the location was in the city, Johnson said.

"The woman's other children are being cared for by a relative," Johnson said.

A medical examiner and forensic investigator were summoned to the scene Sunday night.

Johnson said they have spoken to the friend who brought the woman to the hospital. They are still hoping to talk with the woman's boyfriend, who is believed to be the father of the child.

Anyone with information on the matter is urged to contact Hagerstown City Police at 301-790-3700.

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