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Baby found behind house

September 18, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

A Hagerstown man found a newborn baby boy on the ground behind his home in the 800 block of Chestnut Street in Hagerstown's South End on Saturday.

"I saw a hand and some fingers moving and all I could say was, 'Oh my God, Oh my God!'" said Jamie Sollenberger, who found the baby around 9:30 a.m.

Sollenberger picked the child up, wrapped him in a dish towel and went across the street to a neighbor, who called 911.

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The child appears to be in good health, said Maureen Theriault, spokeswoman for Washington County Hospital, where the baby was taken by Community Rescue Service personnel. He was admitted as Baby John Doe, Theriault said.

Hagerstown City Police said the baby is Caucasian and appears to have been delivered full term.

Evidence at the scene led police to speculate that the baby might have been left in the alley several hours prior to being found.

Sollenberger said he got home from work at 7 a.m. and spent the next two hours working in his garage.

"As I was closing the gate, I saw some bloody paper and what looked like trash on my property," he said.

After moving some blocks of wood near the trailer hitch, Sollenberger saw the baby, who was curled up, alert and looking around.

"He was filthy, though," Sollenberger said.

A telephone canvass of residents in the 800 block of Chestnut Street turned up several people who said they were unaware of the incident. One woman who said she knew about the baby being found declined to comment.

"The police told us not to talk about it while they were still investigating," she said.

Sollenberger said he wanted to get the word out that people don't have to leave babies behind after they are delivered because Maryland has a safe haven law.

"I have children and I'm just happy the baby is safe, but people don't have to do this," Sollenberger said.

In Maryland, a mother may relinquish her baby to a safe haven, where the baby will be protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home can be found. Safe haven laws generally allow the mother to remain anonymous and to be shielded from prosecution for abandonment or neglect in exchange for safely surrendering the baby to a safe haven.

Safe haven providers include hospitals, emergency medical services, and police and fire stations.

Theriault also pointed out Maryland's safe haven law so people can avoid situations such as this from occurring.

The Hagerstown Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division is requesting the public's help in locating the mother. Anyone with information as to the identity of the mother may call the department at 301-790-3700.

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