WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — After a newborn baby girl’s body was found floating off the Florida coast, detectives are trying to unravel the mystery of how she died and how long she had been in the water.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Capt. Steven Stravelli said Monday that it’s unknown whether the child found floating about 100 feet (30 meters) off the Boynton Beach Inlet on Friday was alive when she was placed in the water. Autopsy results are pending.
He said the baby was no more than 2 weeks old and was likely black, Hispanic or multiracial, but could have been Caucasian with dark skin. She wore no clothing.
“We have actually tried our best to identify the nationality of the child, but we cannot rule out any one,” Stravelli said. He said DNA testing is being done.
The baby appeared to be of healthy weight but Stravelli declined to say whether there were signs of abuse. He said it’s also unclear whether the baby was placed in the water from a boat, by someone wading into the water or tossed from shore or a nearby bridge.
He said it is also possible she had been on a boat bringing immigrants illegally from Cuba, Haiti or elsewhere. The area is a frequent landing spot.
The baby was discovered Friday by Boynton Beach firefighter Chris Lemieux, who was fishing with two friends when they saw what they thought was a doll floating in the water.
Lemieux did not return a call Monday from The Associated Press but he told The Palm Beach Post on Friday that they motored over to the baby, which was clearly dead. He said an 18-year-old friend on the boat is about to begin paramedic school, so he used it as a teachable moment.
“I had a talk with him. (I said) ’you’re probably going to see stuff like this in the future,’” Lemieux told the paper. “It’s part of the career as a firefighter/paramedic that we run into stuff like that. He understood what I was saying. I made sure he was OK.”
Lemieux said, “It just blows my mind that you see stuff like that ... you think how the heck could somebody do something? I don’t know the situation, but you go through it in your mind: How’d it happen?”
Stravelli said anyone with information should call 561-688-4155.