It was a sad day for rescue workers, police, and bystanders who witnessed seeing the lifeless body of an eight-pound newborn baby girl, naked on the concrete below a row of apartment housing. Her umbilical cord and placenta was still attached, but the child was pulseless and unresponsive when found in an area of the Bronx with many high-rise apartments. New York City police are investigating the death of the neonate who was found by the apartment superintendent around 2:55 p.m. on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. It was not determined how long the child had been there.
Police detained a woman on Monday night who was believed to be the mother of the dead child. Jennifer Berry, 33 years old, of Yonkers, New York, is believed to have birthed the child in her apartment and then thrown the child, while still alive, out of the seventh story window. She has since been charged with second degree murder and manslaughter. Family members of Berry, including her husband, state they did not realize she was pregnant. They knew that she had been pregnant at one time in earlier months, but stated she had told some family members that she had aborted the fetus and others that she had miscarried. Her husband, who lived in the apartment with her, states he did not realize she was pregnant nor that she had given birth. It is unclear how police were able to quickly locate the mother.
Berry admitted that she gave birth alone in the shower but that she believed the baby was not breathing, so she threw the baby and the placenta out the window. The New York City Chief Medical Examiner, Barbara Sampson, does not believe that was the case. She believes the child was born alive and died after receiving blunt force trauma from the extreme height of the fall after being tossed out the window.
Jennifer Berry was once a former child welfare worker, although the organization she worked with said she had “limited contact” with families. Neighbors and bystanders described a zombie-like woman being led away by police, right by the scene of the crime, with no emotion. Kenneth Bolton, 29 years old, was visiting relatives at the apartment complex as he witnessed Berry being escorted to the squad car by police.
“The devil was in her eyes. It was more like she was not human. She was deranged, like she was lost. You know, when someone has that look in their eyes like they don’t know where they are? “
The assumed father of the baby, Giovanni Johnson, 28 years old, was shaken up and in disbelief. He was home when the birth and alleged murder occurred, but says he knew nothing about it. He is also the father of a 3-year-old child from a previous relationship.
“I didn’t know (about the pregnancy). I didn’t know any of this. I have been cleared of all charges.”
Berry is being held without bail and will not have another court appearance until October 5. Her attorney, also from Yonkers, declined to make any further statements.
Unfortunately, it came to light that another child of Berry’s had died in 2008. In that instance, her two-and-a-half week-old son was found dead in the basement of her home. At that time, the medical examiner ruled it to be a case of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and that Berry had no part in the death. However, investigators are now taking a closer look at that case, according to AM New York.
When Berry stood before the judge for her initial charges on Tuesday, she stared impassively at the ground and was clothed in grimy gray sweatpants. She made no comment.
A makeshift memorial has been erected at the site of the child’s death and several organizations are working to ensure that the baby has a proper burial after police investigations are finished.
[In-line photos by Google and New York Times, featured image via WNBC-TV]