MERCER – Police are releasing more details on the discovery of a baby at a local convenience store — and trying to determine what happened and if charges can or will be filed.
A 27-year-old Sharpsville woman delivered the baby boy in the Mercer Sheetz restroom Thursday and left him in the toilet, police said.
An employee found the baby while cleaning the restroom at the North Erie Street store just before 3 p.m., Mercer Borough Police Chief Brad Shrawder said.
The mother, whose picture was recorded on the store’s surveillance cameras, called the police department Friday morning and went in to be interviewed.
Police could not release her name because she has not been charged with a crime.
“This is still under investigation,” Shrawder said.
The woman also gave police a written statement Friday afternoon.
Shrawder said once the investigation is complete, investigators will talk with the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office before any charges are filed.
The woman told police that she walked into the store and started to feel funny, so she went to the restroom. She said she got sick and delivered the baby, which she told police was stillborn. She then got scared and was confused so she left the store, police said.
Mercer County Coroner John A. Libonati pronounced the baby dead at 5:30 p.m. at the scene, he said.
“The fetus was determined to be 24 weeks gestation,” Libonati said. “Regardless of whether it is still in the placenta is irrelevant. The incident is still under investigation. I have not made contact with who we believe was the young lady.”
He said the baby is in his custody.
“But we haven’t been able to determine anything yet until we reach out to her,” Libonati said. “(The baby) was still in the amniotic sac, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the baby was stillborn. At 24 weeks, life is possible. It doesn’t mean that the sac would break.”
Libonati did not have a complete picture of events by Friday afternoon.
“We don’t have all of the information yet because we haven’t completed the inquiry,” Libonati said. “Every death investigation is an inquiry. Nobody is saying that she intended for this to happen. We really don’t know anything until we talk to the mother. We have a lot of fact-finding to do before we can determine exactly what occurred.”
Libonati said the only facts he had, as of Friday afternoon, is that the incident happened in the Sheetz restroom and that the mother left the scene afterwards.
“She did contact my office this morning but I haven’t been able to discuss it with her directly,” he said. “It is my case, but until I sit down with her, I can’t even say that’s who it is yet. I’m all about facts. She has to prove she is who she is.”
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