Kansas City police investigating the death of a 6-month-old who was found in a state of decomposition in a wooded area suspect the child may have died in an apartment several days before her body was discarded there.
The baby, whose identity has not been publicly released by KCPD, died of causes that remained unknown to police as of Monday. The case, classified as a death investigation, is being led by homicide detectives.
On May 13, Kansas City police officers responded to the 10000 block of East 38th Terrace on a report of a dead body. They were directed by the person who called 911 to a 19-acre vacant lot where the baby was found in stages of decomposition, according to court documents.
Investigators found two kitchen trash bags under and around her legs. A baby blanket and a small, yellow headband were on the ground nearby.
According to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant, Kansas City detectives located a woman believed to be the child’s mother after witnesses contacted the authorities when they saw reports of the discovery on the news.
Witnesses said the mother, whom The Star is not naming because online court records indicated she had not been charged with a crime as of Tuesday, told them her infant daughter died suddenly sometime around May 6. But no funeral arrangements had been made, the witnesses said.
The woman was a mother to three children, they said, and the infant’s father was believed to be her current boyfriend. A DNA test completed through the Kansas City crime lab found that was not the case, according to court documents.
One of the witnesses told detectives the woman had told them she woke up one day to find the child “blue in the face,” saying police and emergency services were called to the apartment. She also asked for money to pay for a cremation.
Detectives confirmed that no report of the 6-month-old’s death had been made to medical examiners in the Kansas City metro.
Another witness reported a “horrific” smell coming from the woman’s apartment as early as late April.
On Thursday, detectives saw the woman walking near East 34th Street and Tracy Avenue. She agreed to go to KCPD headquarters downtown for an interview, according to court documents.
Another lab report showed “very strong support” to detectives that the woman they questioned was in fact the child’s biological mother based on DNA analysis.
During her police interview, the woman first told detectives she had only two children ages two and four. She “denied ever having an infant daughter,” according to court documents, but eventually “admitted she had a third child.”
She said her daughter was last seen alive on May 4 in her apartment in the city’s Squier Park neighborhood. That night, she said, her boyfriend told her the baby was choking and he held her against his chest.
She said he later told her she was sleeping.
An hour later, she told detectives she found the baby with her eyes open and her arms folded against her chest. She said she did not call 911 because her phone was broken, according to court documents.
The following day, she said, she saw her boyfriend buckle the dead child into a car seat and leave.
On Friday, a search warrant was served at the apartment. Detectives on Monday obtained another warrant for video surveillance of the apartment building.
The Star’s Luke Nozicka contributed to this report.