WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - A North Carolina teenager appears to have concealed her pregnancy from her parents before giving birth to a baby girl whose body was found buried in the family’s yard, local police said on Tuesday.
The baby’s body was discovered Sunday night inside a brown bag in a shallow grave as police investigated a tip about a concealed childbirth, Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones said.
Jones said the baby weighed 8-1/2 pounds (3.9 kg) and appeared to be at or near full term with no sign of injuries.
Investigators were waiting for the state medical examiner’s office to determine whether the child was born alive and how she died before deciding to pursue any criminal charges, he said.
Jones said it appeared the 16-year-old girl gave birth Sunday morning at her home near Louisburg, about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Raleigh. As many as a dozen people may have known about the pregnancy, he said.
“More people knew about her pregnancy than we once thought,” Jones said. “We don’t think her parents knew.”
Investigators have interviewed the teenager believed to be the baby’s father and planned to talk to the baby’s mother, who was hospitalized for postpartum care, Jones said.
The sheriff said he hoped the sad case would prompt more dialogue about the options available to young pregnant women.
“There’s counselors, there’s safe havens, there’s social services. There’s people that will help,” he said. “The outcome would just be so much more positive than what we’ve done here.”
Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Eric Beech