Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Sioux City, Iowa
Volunteer finds infant's body at landfill
By Julie Weeder, Journal staff writer
Finding a baby in a landfill full of garbage is nothing short of a miracle, people associated with the search said Monday.
The body of the infant boy was found by a volunteer searcher at about 2:15 p.m. Monday at the L.P. Gill Inc. Landfill southwest of Jackson, Neb.
"He shouted out, 'I found it!'" Union County (S.D.) Sheriff Dan Limoges said of the volunteer. "Emotions were running high. Some were crying. Everybody was hugging and shaking hands. The operators got out of their rigs. Everyone was in disbelief. It was quite the deal."
The search was entering its fourth week, and authorities had announced Thursday would be the last day.
"We never gave up hope," Limoges said. "I knew in the beginning it would be a miracle based on as much garbage went in there before we were told. But we were very hopeful. It was kind of like now or never."
Leonard Gill, owner of the landfill, said it was a relief to finally find the remains.
"I went out there Saturday and said a few prayers around the site myself," Gill said. "I really thought we might have found it then."
Authorities were notified March 10 that a woman in Union County had given birth to a baby boy on Feb. 2 and disposed of the infant. The garbage was picked up the following day and taken to the Gill Landfill. Ninety-eight trucks and 727 tons of garbage from around the area were delivered to the landfill that day.
By the time family members came forward to authorities five weeks later, close to 15,000 tons of garbage had been added to the landfill on top of the baby.
Law enforcement officials and volunteer firefighters began searching the landfill on March 12. A week ago, the search was opened to public volunteers. The searchers numbered 210, said Judy Oberg, Union County chief dispatcher. Many volunteers searched several days.
Approximately 20 volunteers were present Monday when the baby was found just as the mother had described. The mother had provided information about what she wrapped the baby in and what kind of bag the body was in. Those details have not been made public.
Limoges said the baby's body was found intact and "in pretty good condition considering what it had been through."
The baby was taken to St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Sioux City for an autopsy. Limoges said the autopsy would be finished late Monday, but declined to release details until authorities decide if charges are warranted against the parents of the infant.
Julie Weeder may be reached at (712) 293-4228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2004 Sioux City Journal