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Mom of baby found in trash bin arrested

March 3, 2010 12:05:20 AM PST
Redondo Beach police have arrested the suspected mother of a newborn baby whose body was found Wednesday morning in a trash container.Authorities responded to the 700 block of North Irena Avenue at about 9 a.m. after sanitation crews found the newborn's body in a residential trash container in front of a home. The 64-gallon trash can was a bit too heavy to carry, so the workers had to take out several items to make it lighter. That's when they found the baby buried about halfway down.

"We're going under that hypothesis that they in fact had to move the trash to bury the child underneath the trash," said Redondo Beach police Sgt. Phil Keenan.

Jessie Lauren Canfield, 24, was taken into custody at about 4:30 p.m. at a home in Santa Barbara where she lives with her sister.

Canfield, a former Redondo Beach resident, allegedly attended a party over the weekend at the home where the trash container was located, according to Lt. Joe Hoffman of the Redondo Beach Police Department. She apparently complained of cramping and other discomfort during the party.

"There was no indication that she was going into labor or birthing a child, but there was comments that she was in some sort of discomfort. [She] disappeared into a bedroom inside the residence for quite some time and emerged later and that was the last that we heard," said Hoffman.

Canfield told investigators in Santa Barbara that she had given birth at the home and then disposed of the infant in the trash can, according to Hoffman.

Canfield is a 2004 graduate of Redondo Union High School.

She was being transported to Redondo Beach jail, where she was expected to be booked on suspicion of murder.

Police said it is still unclear if the baby girl was alive when she was dumped in the trash bin. The coroner will conduct an autopsy to determine how the baby died.

Neighbors said there is a fire station only a couple of blocks away, where the child could have been surrendered legally.

"You know what the law is, you know that it's so easy to just take an infant to the local fire department or police department, you know, just about anywhere I suppose, and you don't have to do that. That's sad," said neighbor Allene Buchanan.

Under the California Safe Surrender law, a parent or legal guardian can safely surrender an infant, within 72 hours of the child's birth, at any hospital or fire station without fear of prosecution.