The newborn found in a cooler along a Troup County road was a full-term girl with no obvious signs of trauma, an autopsy determined Tuesday.
But investigators still don’t know how the baby died or who left it behind, according to Sgt. Stewart Smith with the Troup Sheriff’s Office. The baby was found not far from U.S. 27, which runs north to south through Georgia.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help to find the baby’s mother. It is still unclear how recently the baby had been born, but investigators say the baby was white.
“It could very well be someone that’s out of town because it’s such busy road,” Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.
Investigators are asking the public if they know of any expectant mother who was full term and is no longer with child to contact them at 706-883-1616 or contact Troup County Crime Stoppers at 706-812-1000.
Deputies were called Sunday afternoon to Boy Scout Road off New Franklin Road, about 65 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta. Witnesses reported seeing the watermelon-print cooler by the side of the road for five or six days before anyone looked inside.
Investigators believe the soft-sided, rolling cooler was purchased from Stein Mart. Though there isn’t a Stein Mart location in Troup County, the cooler could have been bought online, Smith said. Similar coolers, standing 17 inches tall, were listed on the Stein Mart website Tuesday for $29.99.
“The thing we have found is you can purchase it a Stein Mart or online, but there’s probably other places you can buy it,” Smith said.
When the cooler’s contents were discovered, deputies did not want to disturb the baby’s body and accidentally destroy evidence that could be useful to the GBI Crime Lab. As a result, the baby’s sex was not immediately known, Smith said. It was released Tuesday after the autopsy was completed.
Toxicology testing was performed on the body, but those results likely will not be completed for several weeks. Toxicology testing is a routine part of autopsies conducted by the GBI and could indicate whether any drugs contributed to the baby’s death.
Until investigators know more, Smith said he couldn’t comment on possible charges for whoever left the baby on a desolate stretch of road. But charges could range from concealing a death to homicide, he said.
“Obviously that’s not the proper way to handle things, but we don’t know what the situation was,” he said. “We don’t know the frame of mind, and that’s why it’s imperative we talk to this person, these individuals.”
Georgia has a “safe haven” law, which allows unwanted newborn babies to be dropped off at medical facilities without fear of prosecution. In Georgia, the law only applies to babies up to 7 days old.
The investigation into the case continued late Tuesday.
—Please return to AJC.com for updates.
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