A baby was found in a bag, asphyxiated and rotting, reports The Associated Press on Oct. 18. A Manhattan teen was busted for shoplifting at a Victoria’s Secret, and officials found a dead infant in her bag. Investigators think the baby was born alive, then smothered or drowned, and are treating this macabre incident as a homicide.
Police believe 17-year-old Tiana Rodriguez secretly miscarried the infant at a friend’s house. The fetus was born three months premature. Few incidents have been released about Tiana’s pregnancy, although neighbors said they did not realize she was even carrying a baby.
“Rodriguez remained hospitalized Friday after the find a day earlier, and a woman who answered the phone at a possible home number for her said she knew nothing about the matter. A message left at another possible number for Rodriguez wasn't immediately returned,” says the AP report.
On Thursday, Tiana and a friend, 17-year-old Francis Estevez, were shopping at the Herald Square Victoria’s Secret in midtown Manhattan when the pair were busted by store security for shoplifting. They were both arrested on petit larceny charges. Security noticed a strong odor coming from the teen's bags and searched them as well, finding the rotting fetus.
When asked why she had a dead infant in a bag that she was carrying around while shopping, the teen reportedly said she had given birth a day earlier and didn’t know what to do with her baby.
The AP report made the unusual step of identifying the minor’s name. The reason given, according to the report:
“The Associated Press is identifying both teens because in New York, older teens are treated as adults, and their cases are handled in criminal courts. Suspects between 7 and 15 may be charged as juveniles and their cases handled in family courts.”
When the AP called Tiana’s home, a woman identifying herself as the teen’s mother said she has not spoken to her daughter since her arrest and then hung up.
Neighbor Zami Ford was shocked at the report. Other friends expressed disbelief that the teen could even be pregnant, let alone kill her baby and treat the infant in such an inhumane way.
"She's a good girl," Ford said. "I can't believe she would do that."
"I couldn’t really tell because she’s a little heavyset, so I wouldn’t know if she was pregnant, pregnant or that’s just her," neighbor Ramon Acosta said.
"I hope she didn’t do nothing to the baby. That’s all. I hope she didn’t do it," said neighbor Gloria Pierce.
At least one young boy, as the video showed, knew Tiana was pregnant, and said the young mother was attempting to hide her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothes.