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Search continues for evidence in water where baby was found

Forum focuses on infant abandonment

By Dawn Schuett

schuett@postbulletin.com

RED WING — Goodhue County authorities will be out in boats Wednesday morning to search the water where the body of a baby was discovered more than a month ago.

Spring flooding previously kept investigators from being able to search the area where the infant girl was found March 26 by workers at the marina near the Treasure Island Resort & Casino. The marina is on Sturgeon Lake, an inlet of the Mississippi River.

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Sheriff Dean Albers said Monday he couldn’t predict what evidence or clues the search might yield.

"We won’t know really until we get out there and start looking around," he said.

The search is the latest turn in the investigation to identify the baby’s parents and determine who put the baby in the river and why.

No arrests have been made in the case, but authorities have followed up on at least three dozen leads, Albers said.

It is the third time in eight years a baby’s body has been found in the waters of Goodhue County. A boy was found in December 2003 on the shore of Lake Pepin at Old Frontenac. A girl was discovered in the Mississippi River near Bay Point Park in Red Wing in November 1999.

The earlier cases also remain unsolved. To learn more about the babies, DNA samples from each will be sent to a laboratory in Florida for further analysis.

"We’re hoping that we’ll determine the race of this baby and hopefully, the other two, and just give us another piece of information we do not have at this time," Albers said.

Meanwhile, a community forum about infant abandonment is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Wing Public Library to raise awareness about the issue and the services available locally to help pregnant girls and women. The League of Women Voters in Red Wing is partnering with Fairview Red Wing Health Services and Kids Count, Abused Children’s Program, to sponsor the forum.

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Albers, one of the main speakers for the forum, said it’s a chance to "reassure the public of what’s in place and what’s out there."

Connie Skillingstad, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, also will speak. Skillingstad said her message will have to do with understanding what happens to young mothers "that gets them to the place where something like this can happen."

"In any case, what we’re talking about is some mental health problems," she said. "Sometimes, it’s just so impossible to understand why anybody would do that. And the only way that makes any sense to me then is if the person is not in their right mind, if they are just not able to reason it through and to do the right thing."

People assume that girls know about the law allowing a parent to leave a newborn at a hospital but they may not be aware of it, Skillingstad said.

"I think we have to do a much better job of letting young people know what their alternatives and their choices are," she said.

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