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City woman is charged in abandoned baby case

Charges include attempted murder

Charges include attempted murder

September 22, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

The mother of an abandoned infant lived only two blocks from the spot where police say she left her son to die Saturday.

Kelly Erin Ruck, 25, of 809 Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown, was charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, child abuse and contributing to the condition of a child, Hagerstown Police Department Capt. Charles Summers said Wednesday.

"In our opinion, this went further than abandonment," said Det. Shane Blankenship, the lead investigator in the case. "(The baby) was covered ... and meant not to be found. Certainly, there is the opinion that she left the baby there to die."

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Ruck is not married, and the father of the child has been notified about the charges against her, police said.

Ruck had moved into the home on Maryland Avenue about one month before allegedly abandoning her child. This was her first child, police said.

Washington County District Court documents from a trespassing charge in 2000 list Ruck's previous address as 11913 Greenhill Drive in Hagerstown.

The baby, now 5 days old, was abandoned when he was only a few hours old near a home in the 800 block of Chestnut Street. Washington County Hospital officials and Department of Social Services Director David Engle said the boy has been in "good" health since he was found.

The baby was delivered full term and weighed about 6 pounds when he was brought to Washington County Hospital, according to Tarik Shinaishin, a pediatrician who saw the child shortly after he was taken to the hospital.

The infant was cold, but otherwise in good health, Shinaishin said.

"From a cardiorespiratory standpoint, he looked good," Shinaishin said. "Worst-case scenarios were averted."

Because the child was found with pieces of his umbilical cord still attached, doctors believed he could have bled when the cord was cut, he said.

"(The baby received) standard newborn care with certain precautions," Shinaishin said. "He did very well."

At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, police released a photo of the baby wrapped in a powder blue blanket, instead of the dish towel Jamie Sollenberger wrapped the boy in after finding him near his home Saturday.

Police said they went door to door, asking neighbors for information about the infant in the hours after he was found. Information police gathered from neighbors led to Ruck's arrest, police said.

The infant, whom Engle said has not been named, was released from the hospital Wednesday and was living with a foster family in Washington County. The foster family will care for the child until Social Services places him with a permanent family, Engle said.

At least one member of Ruck's family is interested in adopting the child, he said. Social Services will investigate anyone interested in adoption to ensure the home is safe for the infant, Engle said. He said an investigation could take "a good amount of time."

Ruck is being treated at Washington County Hospital, police said. Hospital officials would not comment on what her condition was Wednesday afternoon. Blankenship said when Ruck is released from the hospital, which could be as late as next week, she will be served with a warrant for her arrest and taken into custody. She is not under police supervision at the hospital, he said.

Blankenship would not say whether Ruck has showed remorse since being charged with the attempted murder of her son.

Officials said Wednesday that Ruck could have avoided charges if she had relinquished her child as part of the Safe Haven program - a statewide program allowing a baby to be handed over to a hospital or police. The program applies to children 3 days old or younger who have not been abused.

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