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Police question dead baby's mother

Medford police have identified the mother of a baby girl whose body was found Saturday in a garbage bin at the Holiday Inn Express in south Medford.

A witness who saw the mother in the general area of the bin before and after the baby was discovered contacted police detectives Sunday night.

Based on the information the witness provided, police were able to locate the 19-year-old mother at about 9 a.m. Monday at her home.

"She provided us with a statement, which outlined her version of what occurred," said Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau. "We can't confirm that until we have the results of the autopsy."

An autopsy of the baby is set for 11 a.m. today. It is expected to take two to four hours to complete, Budreau said.

Budreau declined to disclose the mother's version of the story, citing the open investigation. Police now are interviewing the woman's friends and family and are trying to find the baby's father, he said.

"Now we know the who part," Budreau said. "We are still trying to find out the what and the why part."

The woman lives with her mother in Medford and has no other children, Budreau said. It's unclear whether she is employed, but she is not enrolled in school, he said. Her name is being withheld to protect the investigation, he said.

The female witness had seen the woman in the area of the garbage bin while she still was pregnant and again later after the baby's body had been discovered, he said.

Police knew how to find the woman because they interviewed her Saturday before the witness came forward, he said.

"We talked to her just briefly (Saturday) so that we could get her name," Budreau said. "You would think you would be able to tell if someone had a baby or not, but it's surprisingly difficult."

Detectives interviewed all of the staff and guests at the Holiday Inn Express at 1501 S. Pacific Highway and at the adjacent Comfort Inn. They also questioned everyone else who was in the area, including some Harry & David employees. A Harry & David retail store is near the hotels.

Budreau said the mother is not an employee at either of the hotels or Harry & David and was not a guest at the Holiday Inn Express. He would not confirm whether the woman was a guest at the Comfort Inn.

The baby's body was discovered Saturday by a homeless man who was searching through the garbage bin for recyclables.

Parents who have a stillborn infant are required by law to contact police to report the birth, Budreau said. Police will conduct a cause-of-death investigation to determine if the infant was a stillborn. They also can provide information about options for low-cost or no-cost burial or cremation services for the child, he said.

"If the person doesn't want to incur cost for a funeral there are ways around that, but simply throwing the kid in the trash can is not an option legally," Budreau said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.