Two parents are facing 10 years in prison for child abuse and endangering a minor after a mechanic discovered that their baby girl shaking, feverish, and covered in excrement in the trunk of their car.
Investigators in France say that mechanics doing routine repairs on a vehicle noticed “strange noises that sounded like moans” coming from the trunk. The 45-year-old mother, only named as Rose-Marie by The Daily Telegraph, claimed that the noises were caused by toys.
The mechanics insisted on opening the trunk, and found a small, dehydrated child lying naked in her own excrement.
The mechanic who made the discovery on Monday admitted that he is still haunted by the sight.
“I’m still having trouble sleeping, it was a horrifying sight, seeing this little girl in her own excrement, not able to hold up her head, white as a sheet,” he told Le Parisian.
He also said that the mother didn’t seem very concerned about the girl’s welfare.
“We were deeply shocked because she didn’t find this abnormal. We told her to remove the little girl [from the trunk] and give her something to drink right away,” he said.
The girl was immediately taken to the hospital, and her parents were charged with child abuse and neglect. Social services have taken the couple’s other three children, who are between the ages of four and 10, into their care.
When questioned by investigators, the mother revealed that her husband didn’t even know the child in the trunk existed. She said that she gave birth alone and then immediately hid the baby in the trunk. She has no birth certificate, and apparently no name.
“It appears that the child had been hidden from her birth, and even worse is seriously retarded,” said Jean-Pierre Laffite, the prosecutor in nearby Brive-La-Gaillarde.
He added that the girl’s height, weight and metal development do not match up with her estimated age (between 15 and 23 months) and that she can’t speak. “It’s a situation that defies the imagination,” he said.
The couple’s neighbors said that they had no idea the mother was keeping a baby in the trunk. Her husband, an unemployed layman, wasn’t much help either. Police were unable to question him at first because he was too drunk.
One neighbor said that he had never interacted much with the family, while another had a dramatically different impression.
“We had the impression that this woman lived in her car,” said the neighbor, called Pascale. “She never left it. I recall seeing her several times a week with her car parked in a little lot about 200 meters from her house. But we couldn’t see what she was doing in the (trunk). We never heard a single cry, never saw a bottle or a pushchair.”
The couple will face 10 years in prison if they are convicted.