Cops checking if body found is missing child

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Roseville — Workers at a recycling center received a sickening shock when they found the body of a newborn among the discarded material.

Authorities on Thursday were working to determine if the body is that of a child who disappeared in Ingham County.

According to the Roseville Police Department, the body was that of a white male estimated to be 1-3 days old.

Workers at the center in the 30800 block of Groesbeck were sorting items about 11 p.m. Wednesday when a bundle came down the sorting line. When workers opened it, they found the body of the newborn.

According to police, the child showed no visible signs of trauma and an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.

The body of a dead infant boy was found by refuse sorters at the RE Community recycling center in Roseville on Wednesday night.

The discovery comes as Meridian Township police are working to locate a baby in an Ingham County case in which a 25-year-old Okemos woman, who has been charged with murder in the 2013 death of her baby girl, gave birth to a boy last month but whose whereabouts are unknown, authorities said.

"Roseville and Meridian Township detectives are collaborating to ascertain if the baby found today in Roseville could perhaps be the missing child of Melissa Mitin," Roseville police said in a statement.

Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rousseau said Mitin of Okemos on Tuesday told a family court judge she "could not recall" where the baby boy is. On Wednesday, Rousseau told a Circuit Court judge the remark was "startling."

"We believe she is a danger to the community," Rousseau said.

Circuit Judge Jim Jamo ordered Mitin held without bond at the Ingham County Jail. She had been free on $5,000 bond while she awaited trial in the 2013 death.

Mitin's lawyer, Frank Reynolds, said he has "serious concerns about her psychological well-being" after the remarks about the newborn. Jamo has granted a request by Reynolds for competency tests.

Reynolds didn't elaborate about his concerns.

Mitin, who had been living with her parents in the Lansing area, was examined at a doctor's office in mid-December, and it was determined she was 35 weeks pregnant, Rousseau said. An examination Tuesday showed she had given birth about three weeks ago.

Mitin was charged last year in the Dec. 26, 2013, death of her daughter. According to testimony in the case, she concealed the pregnancy, gave birth in a bathroom and put the infant face down in a wastebasket. The umbilical cord and placenta were still attached.

Mitin told police that after giving birth, the baby cried but then stopped breathing.

Michigan has a safe-haven law that allows parents to legally relinquish custody of their newborn without fear of prosecution. The first such law was passed in Texas in 1999, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance in Virginia.

"In Michigan you can call 911 and when the paramedics show up, you can relinquish your baby (72 hours old) to them or any EMS provider," said Dr. Katherine Gold, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "You can also leave your baby with staff at a hospital, police department or fire station."

The law was passed in 2000 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2001, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Gold said many women suffer from impaired judgment after giving birth because of either postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum depression can develop right after delivery and up to a year after a woman gives birth. A new mother can suffer from sadness, be withdrawn or have difficulty caring for their baby.

"In severe cases a woman can become suicidal," Gold said. "But it is very unusual to become homicidal from postpartum depression."

Gold said postpartum psychosis can happen as early has two or three days after birth.

Patients often act or talk oddly and may have delusions such as thinking the baby is going to harm them.

"It is a very serious issue and it only happens to about one to two women out of 1,000," Gold said. "Whereas postpartum depression can hit between 13 and 20 percent of women."

There are other reasons a mother might abandon a newborn.

Gold said there was a recent case of a young girl with cognitive impairment, abandoning her baby. In other circumstances, a woman will hide her pregnancy and out of fear, abandon her newborn.

There are even rarer incidents of stillborn infants accidentally being sent, typically by hospitals, to laundry services or put in the trash, Gold said.

"It is the kind of thing that can be extraordinarily traumatic for the people who find a baby like this," Gold said. "The workers that found this baby in Roseville ... how traumatic."

The Roseville case is similar to one from last November where Muskegon police arrested a 17-year-old girl after the body of a newborn was found on the ground. Police say the child appeared to have been exposed to the elements for a period of time.

(313) 222-2023

The Associated Press contributed.