HOUSTON – A hearing was held Friday to determine who will get custody of the newborn girl who was found abandoned and covered in ants at an apartment complex in northwest Harris County.
According to Harris County deputies, a man who was on his way to work found the baby about 5 a.m. Thursday in a flower bed at the Bridges of Cypress Creek apartments on Red Oak Drive.
They said investigators followed a blood trail to a nearby apartment, where they detained two people identified as the child’s mother and father.
Both the mother, who KPRC2 is not identifying since she has not been charged in the case, and the child were taken to area hospitals, where they were treated.
During Friday’s hearing, a man named Deandre Skillern showed up claiming to be the father, and said investigators collected a DNA sample to verify his claim. Authorities later confirmed Skillern is the same man who was identified as the father during Thursday's investigation.
The child’s maternal grandmother, Tina Woytasczyk, was also in attendance Friday and said she did not know her daughter was pregnant. Skillern also said he did not know she was pregnant and just noticed she was "getting bigger."
In court, Skillern said he and the baby's mother are not married, but lived together.
Skillern admitted in court that he smoked marijuana when he was asked to take a drug test.
The mother told a friend that she dumped the baby about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and that the umbilical cord was ripped, according to information presented at the hearing.
Investigators also revealed at the hearing that the baby was 6 pounds 13 ounces when she was found. They also said the baby was suffering from a bacterial infection and rapid heart rate.
Prosecutors said a grand jury will be presented with the case next week to determine if the mother will face charges.
Skillern is not expected to be charged.
Man speaks about finding baby
"I heard something like a cat," said Albert Peterson, the resident who told Channel 2 News he discovered the newborn. "She was there on the ground in the flower bed with ants. She was covered from head to toe and all in her ears ... She had a lot of strength, too. She was fighting."
"I was like, 'Hey, there's a baby outside on the sidewalk,'" said John Baldwin, who recorded video of the baby on the ground after Peterson found her. "I was like, 'Call 911!'"
“I’m in shock. There’s a hospital not even a block down the road, and if the mother was so worried about the infant’s safety she could’ve easily gone to drop off the baby,” resident Roger Coreas said.
Investigators concluded that the child was born inside the apartment and then taken outside and dumped in the bushes.
"Had this neighbor not been here, we'd be looking at a homicide," Harris County Deputy Thomas Gilliland said. "It's a miracle the child was found."
Child Protective Services said Friday that the baby will remain in the hospital until custody proceedings are complete, including home studies, DNA tests and drug tests.
"The judge will decide where the child will be placed when she's released from the hospital," the agency said in a written statement.
The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Officials also said they have been contacted by people who wish to adopt the child.
"We are not at that point yet," the agency said in the statement.
Officials said anyone who is interested in fostering or adopting a child should visit adoptchildren.org or call 713-394-4234.
Those who would like to donate items for the baby or any child in need can contact Mary Votaw at 832-454-4163 or Be A Resource at 713-940-3087, officials said.
Baby Moses Law
CPS encourages parents who are unable to care for their newborn to "to call the hotline (1-877-904-SAVE), or find a hospital, fire station or EMS station and give their child to an employee there." Investigators said there is a fire station close to the apartment complex where the baby was born.
“It’s shocking, it’s frustrating at the same time, because if you just can’t, can’t do it, there are other ways of going about it,” resident Rontrell Lucas said. “If you feel like you just can’t do it, there’s someone out there that can.”
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website, under the Baby Moses Law, there are steps parents must follow if they are considering taking a baby to a designated Safe Haven:
- Your baby must be 60 days old or younger, unharmed and safe.
- You may take your baby to any hospital, fire station or emergency medical services station in Texas.
- You need to give your baby to an employee who works at one of these safe places and tell this person that you want to leave your baby at a Safe Haven.
- You may be asked by an employee for family or medical history to make sure that your baby receives the care they need.
A person who surrenders an unharmed infant at a Safe Haven will not be prosecuted, the website says.
Posted by KPRC2 Cathy Hernandez on Thursday, August 10, 2017
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that two men claimed to be the father of the child. The above story has been updated with the correct information.