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Infant found in Salvation Army bin

  • Author: Don Hunter
  • Updated: July 1, 2016
  • Published September 6, 1986

This story was originally published on Sept. 6, 1986

A newborn baby boy abandoned in a box in a Muldoon alley Thursday night was in good condition Friday at Humana Hospital.

The infant was wrapped in a towel and hidden in a cardboard box left on the ground beside a Salvation Army collection bin. He was found by two teen-age boys who heard him crying as they rode by on their bicycles.

"It was crying, real loud," 15-year-old Christian Chain said. Chain was interviewed Friday while walking his dog, Duke, in the neighorhood.

"The box was closed," he said. "There was no lid, but the sides were folded up on top of the baby . We opened it up and, you know, there was a baby . . .

"It was wrapped in a towel, a tan towel," he said.

"It was real young, not that old at all."

Only minutes before Chain and Lamont Williams, 14, found the baby , an anonymous caller told an Anchorage Police dispatcher a baby had been left at the bin.

By the time officers arrived, the boys had picked up the box, climbed back on their bikes, and taken the baby to the Chain home, where they called police.

The boys discovered the baby shortly after 9 p.m., according to police. Officers took him to Humana Hospital about 9:30 p.m. Police Spokesman Joe Young said the infant was "a few hours old, at most."

Salvation Army dispatcher Alice Phillips said donations left at the bin are picked up about 11 a.m. every day. The bin is directly behind a Salvation Army thrift shop at 101 Muldoon Road.

Lynn Whitley, a hospital spokeswoman, said the baby weighed seven pounds, one ounce and was in satisfactory condition in the Humana nursery late Friday afternoon. He was stable, with vital signs within normal limits, she said.

The infant is now in the custody of the state division of family and youth services. Dolly Coke, a social worker supervisor, said in cases where the state assumes custody of children, they are placed in a foster home until a permanent placement is arranged.

Authorities have named the baby John Doe.

Storekeepers and residents of a trailer park across the street from the thrift shop said they had seen no unusual activity Thursday night. But a delivery man for a sandwich shop directly across Muldoon Road said he saw a young couple acting a little strangely.

"I was fixing to go out and make some deliveries, and I was sitting in my car adjusting packages and something caught my eye just across the street at the Goodwill box," said Chuck Argo.

"There was a couple in a late model, foreign pickup, sort of rummaging around in the boxes there. I thought it was unusual to see people with a truck like that looking in the bin . . .

"Then they had a bundle, looked like a bundle of clothes, and just kind of laid it over there in the boxes and took off. I didn't think anything of it until I got back (from making deliveries) and my supervisor said" police had been there.

"It didn't dawn on me it could have been a child," he said.

Young, the police spokesman, said another person called police late Thursday night after seeing reports of the abandonment on television. The caller said he had seen "a very pregnant woman in the area of the bin an hour or two before," Young said.

"That's not very much to go on," he said.

Coke, the social worker, said state law prevents her from discussing Baby Doe's specific case. She did describe procedures used in similar cases, however.

"It's very rare" for a newborn infant to be abandoned, she said. "I've been here five years, and I don't know of another infant I can remember who was abandoned . . .

"Whenever a child is abandoned you can usually assume the mother was under a great deal of stress, and may have assumed she could not provide for the child," she said.

"In these cases, it's my experience the parent will eventually surface," Coke said. "Sometimes, someone who has been pregnant suddenly isn't, and there's no baby , and someone who knows her will call. Or sometimes they have a second thought and the parent will come forth."

If the parent or parents do appear, social workers will counsel them and try to decide the best solution for the child, Coke said.

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