A baby found in a trash truck Monday morning probably was born prematurely at home, Kansas City police said Tuesday.
Police estimated that the boy was 29 to 34 weeks old in gestation. A full-term baby is born at 40 weeks.
The medical examiner will need to conduct further testing to determine the cause of death and how long the baby had been dead. Police believe the boy was dead before being placed in the trash truck.
The baby could have been stillborn, police said. Homicide Sgt. Barb Eckert, who is investigating the case, said she has heard stories about women whose babies died in utero who were told to go home and wait to deliver the baby.
“Maybe this mother didn’t know what to do after she delivered,” Eckert said.
It’s possible the baby was the victim of an intentional home abortion, Eckert said. Police have worked such cases.
“But right now we don’t know what happened,” she said. “That’s why we need to find the mother.”
Trash truck employees who were tossing trash bags into the back of their truck saw the crushed remains under the tailgate about 8:15 a.m. Monday as they worked in the 2800 block of Campbell Street. They stopped the truck and called 911.
They started their route picking up curbside residential trash at 7 a.m. Based on where the remains were in the truck, they told police they believe they picked up the baby in the last three blocks of their route.
Investigators combed through every bag in the truck — which carried more than 100 bags — to try to find other evidence associated with the baby. Detectives working in pairs spread the contents of the bags on four tables.
“The city allows residents to put out two bags, so we wanted to see if there was a second bag,” Eckert said.
She said they did find valuable evidence, including what they believe the baby was inside when it was placed on the curb, but she declined to elaborate.
Detectives planned to visit the neighborhood for an area canvass Tuesday night to try to find the mother. Police are asking for the public’s help to identify anyone who recently was pregnant but no longer is. Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).
By late Tuesday afternoon, police had only received two tips and neither one panned out, Eckert said.