A New York subway drama unfolded Monday morning when a rider found a baby, less than one year old, abandoned on a busy Midtown Manhattan subway platform sitting in a stroller and sucking on a bottle.
By early Tuesday morning, police say, they found the young mom who they say is shown on a subway surveillance video pushing the baby in a stroller. The New York cops say that she's the mom who abandoned the baby at New York's Columbus Circle station, a hub at 59th St. and Broadway that is one of the busiest subway stations in the city.
According to police, the woman has now told them that she is homeless and from North Carolina. She said she arrived in New York City only last week. The baby's father died not long ago and she felt incapable of caring for the child, according to police accounts of their interview with the mom.
UPDATE 9pm EDT: The 20-year-old mom now charged by police with abandoning her baby is Frankea Dabbs, a troubled young woman whose family says suffers from mental health problems, and who recently witnessed her boyfriend, the baby's father, being murdered by masked robbers in their home as she hid terrified under a bed.
"I think it's because she had a tragic past. She saw her boyfriend get murdered – the baby's daddy – and I think it, maybe, escalated from there," the woman's father, Franklin Dabbs, told CBS 2 News in New York. "She was holding all of that in."
He said that when she left North Carolina, she told no one, and that he was "blown away" when he learned she had abandoned her baby on a New York subway platform. The elder Dabbs said that he wants to return the child to North Carolina.
"She walks around with dark shades. She even sleeps in dark shades. I really believe there is something mentally wrong with Frankea," the woman's aunt Lawanna Edmonds told The New York Daily News, saying that Frankea's stepfather kicked her out of the house because she refused to allow lights to be turned on in the house, demanding darkness at all times.
Frankea Dabbs, who is less than two weeks short of her 21st birthday, has two arrests for prostitution in North Carolina and South Carolina. Her baby, Mylanea, is now with the New York Administration for Children's Services.
"She really needs help," said her aunt. "It's not like she just abandoned the baby. Me personally, I think the child is looking for help."
Frankea Dabbs, New York police spokesperson Stephen Davis said, "felt she couldn't take care of the baby and thought she was leaving her in a safe public space."
ORIGINAL STORY: New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority lists Columbus Circle, with more than 70,000 riders per day, as the seventh busiest station in the nation's busiest rapid transit system, suggesting that the young mom left the baby there in hopes that the child would be found quickly.
According to witness accounts, the young woman — who cops say is just 20 years old — was riding the northbound No. 1 train, and when the doors opened at the Columbus Circle stop, she stepped out pushing the baby in its stroller.
She then quickly spun around and got back on the train before the doors closed, leaving the child alone on the subway platform.
Shortly after, 33-year-old Catherine Boursier noticed the child was alone and stayed with the adorable little baby for 20 minutes, waiting for a parent or caregiver to arrive. When no one came, Boursier alerted the MTA police.
The baby was taken to nearby Roosevelt Hospital. Other than a rash, the child was found to show no signs of injury or physical abuse. While original media reports said that the child was just seven months old, a report Tuesday morning from ABC News said that the baby was 10 months old and was now listed in stable condition at the hospital.
New York police quickly released photos of the baby, as well as surveillance photos of the woman they identified as the young mom who abandoned the child. In the surveillance photos, she is seen pushing the baby in a stroller through an emergency exit door into a subway station. Surveillance footage later shows the same woman exiting a subway station alone.
There were no surveillance cameras operating on the No. 1 train platform at Columbus Circle. But from the photos that police made available, witnesses recognized the woman, who was taken in into custody around 12:30 am Tuesday at 72nd St. and Broadway, just blocks from Columbus Circle.
New York City has an ordinance allowing unwanted infants to be left at police or fire stations or hospitals with no questioned asked. The law was designed to stop babies from being dumped in garbage cans, but it applies only to newborn babies no more than five days old.