Local News

Wednesday, Jan 08 2014 10:06 AM

Coroner: Death of newborn found in trash bin a homicide

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    In this file photo, members of the Oildale community hold a candlelight vigil for the baby that was found in a trash can in Oildale last summer on Beardsley Avenue.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    In this June photo, Kern County sheriff's personnel investigate the scene on Beardsley Avenue where the body of a newborn baby was found inside a trash bin. Reggie Groves, who found the child in the bin, was visibly distraught as he spoke about seeing the baby. He said it is the worst thing he has ever seen.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Someone knows how a battered, burnt newborn baby girl ended up in an Oildale trash bin on the first day of summer.

They’re just not coming forward.

Kern County sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said investigators have tried to identify the parents of the girl, whose death was classified Wednesday by the coroner’s office as a homicide. She died of blunt force trauma, burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dozens of tips have been followed. Hospital staffers were asked about women who had checked in after recently giving birth. The neighborhood where the baby’s body was found was searched. Detectives questioned residents whether anyone in the area had been pregnant.

Nothing was turned up.

“At this point we’re kind of at a standstill in the investigation,” Pruitt said.

Reggie Groves discovered the infant’s body at about 6 a.m. June 21 in the 500 block of Beardsley Avenue. He told deputies he had been moving the bin from the curb back toward his office when he saw her.

Groves could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but his son, Reggie Groves Jr., said his father was devastated by the discovery and remained depressed for months afterward.

“It kind of makes me sad at heart and concerned for the community,” Groves Jr. said.

At the time, the elder Groves said he at first thought the body was a doll someone had planted as a “sick joke.” He asked his daughter to take a look, and she confirmed the body was real.
Groves said the baby was naked and black due to decay, burning or bruising, and had a head wound.

Pruitt said the infant — believed to be either white or Hispanic — was likely placed in the bin either the night before or the morning she was found. DNA was taken from the body and entered into a national database, but there have been no matches.

He said this case has been particularly troubling.

“This not only affects us here at the sheriff’s office, it affects the entire community,” he said.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Kern County Sheriff's Office at 861-3110 or Secret Witness at 322-4040. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411); just type the keyword "KCSO" prior to the message.

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