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Police Hunt Mother of Abandoned Newborn

Aired May 6, 2008 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: A shocking discovery, upscale St. Louis suburbs, just hours old, an infant boy, umbilical cord and placenta still attached, found buried deep inside a dumpster, left to die, thrown away like garbage, wearing only a towel, the baby cold and crying, desperate for nourishment. Miracle. The baby survives. But tonight, the investigation. Who left their own infant to die?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A St. Louis man discovered something shocking when he went to throw out his lawn clippings, a newborn baby. The baby boy was discovered last night under a foot of brush in a large trash bin used to dispose of yard waste. The child, who weighs about 6 pounds, was cold but breathing and had his umbilical cord still attached. The baby, in stable condition after being taken to a local hospital, is now in state custody. Police are searching for the mother of the newborn, who was not seen in the area when the baby was discovered.

WESLEY FALKER, FOUND NEWBORN IN TRASH CAN: I definitely feel like that God did all of this. He put all this together. The baby cried at the right time. I was out there at the right time. And I think it`s going to be a good result. I just feel it. You know, it`s going to be a good result. I think this baby`s going to be just fine.


GRACE: And tonight, a 6-year-old little girl loses her life when her own home goes up in flames while Mommy parties hearty at a local disco. Number one, where`s Daddy? And number two, party`s over, Mommy!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Carrollton, Georgia, woman is behind bars tonight after her 6-year-old daughter dies in an apartment fire while she was allegedly out clubbing. Twenty-four-year-old Erica Rutledge (ph) is charged with reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter for the death of her 6-year-old daughter, Janya (ph). Rutledge claims she left Janya and her 4-year-old brother home with a friend, but the friend said she had no idea the little girl was there or that Rutledge left.

When the fire broke out, he and the 4-year-old boy made it out of the blaze alive, but little Janya was left in the home sleeping. State fire officials said Janya died 12 hours after she was rushed to an Atlanta hospital, over 80 percent of her body burned. Now mother Erica Rutledge faces up to 10 years in prison.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. To St. Louis`s Children`s Hospital, a brand-new baby born under 24-hour watch after being left to die, buried deep inside a public trash dumpster. The miracle tonight, he survives. But now the investigation. Who left their own baby to die?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Searching for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned Monday night. A local St. Louis resident discovered the child in a large trash bin used to collect lawn clippings, under a foot of brush. The 6-pound newborn baby boy was wrapped in a towel, with his umbilical cord still attached.

FALKER: The baby was sucking his hand while we were up there holding it. The baby was nice and warm. I do believe because of the vegetation that was in the dumpster was decomposing, it always puts off heat, you know, because even when I opened it up, it was warmer than outside, the dumpster was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We received a call for service this evening for a baby abandoned in a dumpster. Our investigation revealed a witness who says that they were placing some yard waste into a dumpster, at which time he heard a noise. We have found and located an abandoned baby boy, obviously newborn, and he is being treated at an area hospital right now in stable condition. And we will continue our investigation.


GRACE: The placenta and the umbilical cord still attached. The baby literally, buried -- buried -- not just thrown in, but buried -- in a public trash dumpster under a lot of refuse, branches, leaves, you name it. It was literally a miracle that the child was found. But now where`s the mother? Who left their own baby to die? We are taking your calls live.

Out to Ann Rubin with KSDK. Ann, what happened?

ANN RUBIN, KSDK: Well, we got the call last night that authorities were responding to a baby in a dumpster. When we got out there, we spoke to a witness who said that he had been mowing his lawn late at night, went to dump his yard waste in the dumpster and heard the baby crying. He grabbed some neighbors, who started to take that debris out of the dumpster, and that`s when they saw the baby wrapped in a towel, a newborn infant, placenta, umbilical cord still attached. He was able to call for help. Paramedics came, rushed that baby to the hospital. Baby is now in good condition, stable, here at St. Louis Children`s Hospital. Pretty unbelievable.

GRACE: Also with us, joining us out of Washington, D.C., is Dr. Marty Makary, physician and professor of public health with Johns Hopkins. Dr. Makary, thank you for being with us. With the umbilical cord and the placenta still attached, explain what that means to you, as far as how hold the baby was and the likelihood it will live?

DR. MARTY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, PROF. OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS: well, oftentimes within the first 24 to 48 hours, the umbilical cord will slough off. The umbilical cord is often left intact by many doctors, and especially midwives, to keep that blood pumping from the placenta back to the baby. And in this case, that may have helped. And I think that towel might have served as a natural incubator in preserving this baby`s fluids and keeping the baby going.

GRACE: Interesting that you brought up the towel. To Mike Brooks, former fed with the FBI. Mike, the towel -- it may be the only clue to finding who left their baby to die.

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It could, Nancy. Absolutely. And you know, on towels -- everybody takes a look on there, whether it says whatever make it is. They also have a number on there, and that could possibly lead them to who sold towels in that particular area. We`ve seen cases like this before, and also terrorism cases, where they`re able to find out the origin of where that towel was sold.

There could be other evidence, too. And the man who found that baby, he could go in and say, Well, this was mine, that wasn`t mine, and some of the neighbors could say the same thing. But also, the early canvas of that neighborhood extremely important in this particular case, Nancy.

GRACE: Because the likelihood that she would just pick out that dumpster? Listen, this mom didn`t go driving around town, trying to find just the right dumpster. She was familiar with it. That means she`s been in that neighborhood before. And another thing about the towel, Mike Brooks, is that you know she had just given birth. Her DNA had to be on that towel.

BROOKS: Absolutely. Her DNA, possibly someone else. Apparently, one of the neighbors had their window open and they heard a male voice coming from that alley in the early hours of that day. So that also could be some key information. And as I said, that early canvas on this particular case could be a lot to investigators.

GRACE: Out to Melanie Streeper with KTRS radio. Melanie, what can you tell me about the male voice heard in the alleyway?

MELANIE STREEPER, KTRS: Well, late this afternoon, Nancy, I talked to St. Louis city police, and they are very tight-lipped about this investigation. They actually said they are following up several leads, but they don`t want to compromise the investigation at this point. The child abuse unit is currently handling this case, and they have several officers assigned to deal with this case. They`re calling it a top priority.

GRACE: Out to Lisa Boesky, psychologist and author. We`re about to start taking your calls live. Lisa, even now -- and my twins are 6 months old -- I`m so concerned that they get the nourishment they need for each day. And I remember when we brought them home, how fragile they were. This baby is about the size of John David. He was about 5 pounds when he was born. And you can hold -- they`re this big. You can hold them. They can`t even hold their little necks up. They can barely even open their eyes.

What were the odds this baby would live or die? And what does that -- how does that play in to the psyche of the mom or dad that threw them in a trash bin?

LISA BOESKY, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, you know, when we see women that abandon their babies, they`re almost always young girls, first pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy. It`s not a mother bonding with her child for nine months. They usually don`t want this pregnancy. They don`t want this baby to exist, and they literally want to get rid of it as soon as possible because you know, Nancy, even a few hours spent with that baby, bonding starts, and then they can`t abandon it. So they usually try and get rid of it as soon as possible.

GRACE: So to them, the baby`s not even a real human. It`s just something they want to get rid of.

BOESKY: That`s exactly right. You know, most mothers, as you know, bond over those nine months. For her, it was likely something she did not want from the start. It was something that she -- a lot of them believe that if you get rid of it soon enough, they don`t feel any pain. It`s like a doll that they`re disposing. Because she could have taken it to a hospital. She could have taken it to a neighbor. But she chose to dispose of it.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Martha in Tennessee. Hi, Martha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. God made you special.

GRACE: Thank you. And thank you for calling. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I also want to say happy half birthday to the twins.

GRACE: Thank you. I celebrated it with my first cup of caffeinated coffee that I`ve had in over a year. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good for you. Approximately how old do they think this infant was?

GRACE: Good question. To Ann Rubin with KSDK. I mean, with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached, are they releasing the possible age of the baby?

RUBIN: No. All they`re saying is the baby had to have been pretty new and that the baby not would have likely done well in the dumpster for an extended period of time, based on what they saw. And based on the fact that the child appeared to be in such good condition, moving its arms around, crying, skin color looked good, they seem to think that the baby had not been in there very long, therefore, probably was not very old.

GRACE: To Dr. Marty Makary. What does that mean, what you`re hearing right now, as far as the age of the baby?

MAKARY: This child was less than 3 days old. There`s no way a child`s going to survive on their own for more than 3 days. And the fact that the umbilical cord was still attached tells me it`s probably sometime between day one and day two.

GRACE: Why do you say that? When does the cord fall off?

MAKARY: By 48 hours, that cord has sloughed off. It naturally sort of dies off and it detaches.

GRACE: So within 48 hours, the umbilical cord falls off.

MAKARY: For an intact umbilical cord to a placenta.

GRACE: I want to go to Michael Morrisey. He`s joining us from Boston. He is with Baby Safe Haven. He is an expert. All across the country, there are what we call baby safe havens, where if you don`t want your baby, within a certain period of time after the baby`s birth, you can take it and leave it, no questions asked. You won`t be prosecuted. They want the baby. And this was a baby safe haven area.

You know, Michael Morrisey, the reality is, whether we like it or we don`t like it or we want to fight about it or we want to write to Congress, abortion is legal in this country. That is a woman`s right to choose. Why do you have a baby, a full-term baby, and then try to kill it, throw it away in a dumpster? I mean, you are an expert in this field. Why is this happening over and over and over?

MICHAEL MORRISEY, BABY SAFE HAVEN EXPERT: Well, we`re seeing, by the calls to our hotline, that there is a lot of denial. And it`s women anywhere from 14 to even actually in their 30s where...

GRACE: Whoa! In their 30s? They can`t figure out to take a baby to a safe haven up in their 30s?

MORRISEY: Well, these are women calling the hotline that then do use either the safe haven, or they get counseling or go into an adoption plan or a parenting plan. I`m talking the people that call our hotline...

GRACE: Right.

MORRISEY: ... that we give the right information to. And then inversely, we see women who do infanticide or neonaticide of a baby that`s very young, thrown away in a dumpster or worse, killed and then thrown away. They have similar attributes. They`re very similar. There`s a denial of the pregnancy, and then when the hormones kick in and they start delivering, there`s kind of this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of thing, and they get very scared. And being scared and all of a sudden all the pain and everywhere else they go through with a secret delivery -- a lot of them on their own in the back seat of a car or in the bathtub -- they get very scared and they make irrational decisions that...

GRACE: Scared for themselves? Listen, I don`t want to come off as judgmental, but this is a crime. This is a felony, to do this to a little baby. Who`s scared for the baby? I don`t see the mommy down there in the bottom of a trash bin, begging for food, about to die, wrapped in nothing but a towel.

I want to go to a very special guest, who in my mind is a hero. Joining us tonight is the man who found the baby, rescued the baby, and it was a series of circumstances that can be nothing less than a miracle, him finding this baby, Wesley Falker. He found the newborn in the trash bin. Mr. Falker, thank you for being with us.

FALKER: You`re welcome. You`re welcome.

GRACE: What happened that night, and what the hey were you doing -- what were you, cutting your grass?

FALKER: Well, I did cut my grass rather late.

GRACE: OK, I used to cut my grass at 10:00 o`clock at night, when I would get home from teaching school. Everybody around me thinks it`s crazy. It`s not crazy. What happened?

FALKER: It`s not that crazy. I cut my back yard first because my front yard has a streetlight that`s directly in front of it, so it was already trimmed, and that`s all it took was the actual cutting of the grass. It wasn`t completely dark when I started the front yard.

But I already had all the grass in my refuse container from the back yard, and I rolled it to the front yard, cut the front yard and emptied the bag into the refuse container, rolled it back to the back yard. And I thought for a moment when I rolled it back there that my oldest son, Justin, could empty it out tomorrow. I knew he was going to cut some grass tomorrow. And I thought he could empty it out. And then I thought, well, I could empty it out because I heard it was going to rain tomorrow.

And then I started to go in the house, right inside the door, and get a stick to prop up the dumpster lid with because I knew that it was going to take both my hands to lift up this grass. It`s probably 75 pounds or 80 pounds worth of grass in this 55-gallon container that I had. So I went out to the back, and every time I opened the gate, I had to tell my dogs to stay in the yard.

So I walked over to the dumpster. And it was dark, but there`s a streetlight maybe 40 yards away from this particular dumpster. And I looked for a stick in the dark, and I really didn`t see one. So I opened up the dumpster on the left side. And I think I`ve been telling everybody I opened it up on the right side, but I opened it up on the left side. And it was full all the way to the top. So then I walked over to the right side and opened up that side of the dumpster, and it was also full to the top. And it was so full that it made me look back to see how much grass I had because I wondering if it was going to fit.

But one of the striking things about when I opened that particular dumpster up was that the brush in it was so neatly arranged. I`ve never thought that ever in my life going to a dumpster, but the branches were just straight and just so neatly arranged that it was my main -- you know, it was the main thought I had when I opened it up. And it was warm in there because I felt a little heat come out, and a very humid environment as that vegetation was decomposing. It had been in there probably since Thursday or Friday because my neighbor had put most of that in there when she was cleaning up her back yard.

GRACE: Right. When did you hear the baby?

FALKER: I did not hear the baby at first and I did not hear the baby while I was looking for something to prop it up with. I decided I would grab a branch that was up near the top and try to use one of those branches to prop the lid. And when I moved that branch, I believe it may have jostled the baby just enough for the baby to make a little sound. And as I was propping up the lid, I heard a sound that I attributed to the stick sliding along the plastic lid.

And I thought to myself I never heard a sound like that from a stick up against plastic. And I didn`t think anything further of it because I had the lid open enough where I think I could now dump my trash can. And as I walked towards my trash can to pick it up, I heard a very short cry.

GRACE: Everybody, with me -- and we are taking your calls live -- is Wesley Falker. He found the baby, thrown away and left to die. And we`re going to hear the rest of his story when we come back. He is taking your calls live.

As we go to break, stories like this one we are now covering reinforce how fragile the lives of my own twins are. I want to thank you for your thoughts and prayers for the twins, and little Lucy and John David, the true loves of my life. All the years of growing up, we read "Good Housekeeping," and tonight, get ready, here`s their new cover. It`s the twins. I truly believe because of your kind prayers and well wishes, my prayers in that hospital bed were answered 10,000 times over. Thank you, and I hope you like the "Good Housekeeping" story.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A newborn baby boy found abandoned but alive in a trash bin last night is in satisfactory condition right now at a St. Louis hospital. He was found by a man who was about to throw out some of his yard trimmings. The baby`s umbilical cord was still attached, but police are looking for his parents. Investigators say they aren`t sure how long he was in that bin.


GRACE: With us tonight, taking your calls live, is the man who helped facilitate a miracle. With me tonight, Wesley Falker. He found the baby in the trash bin.

You left off when you heard the sound. What happened then? When did you realize there was a baby in there?

FALKER: Well, the first cry that I heard from the baby told me it was a baby. But it`s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that there could be a baby in a dumpster, where it`s full of brush. And I`ve used this particular dumpster, you know, a lawn waste dumpster, for the 22 years that I`ve been there.

GRACE: Well, what did you do? How did you get the baby out?

FALKER: Well, it wasn`t time for me to get the baby out because I couldn`t quite process just start digging all the stuff out. I wanted someone else to verify that what I heard may have been a baby, which I was pretty sure of that`s what it was.

GRACE: So what happened?

FALKER: Well, I hollered for my neighbor, and my neighbor was sitting in her kitchen. I could see her through her back yard and I could see her through her door. And they heard me and they both came to their door. And they said, What? And I said, Come out here, you know, really emphatically. And neither one came. And they just stood on the porch, and they was, like -- they was scared to come because they said they had never heard me sound like that before. And so they kept asking me why and what and why and what, and I didn`t want to tell them because I believed that would scare them off.

So eventually, I had to say, I think there`s a baby in a dumpster. And the mother immediately said 911. And I was, like -- I wasn`t sure because I hadn`t heard another sound.



FALKER: I definitely feel like that God did all of this. He put all this together. The baby cried at the right time. I was out there at the right time. And I think it`s going to be a good result. I just feel it. You know, it`s going to be a good result. I think this baby`s going to be just fine.


GRACE: A baby thrown away, left to die. The baby survives. And now the investigation. Who would leave their child like this to die?

With us tonight, the man who discovered and saved the life of this infant child, this baby boy, Wesley Falker. Mr. Falker, tell me what happened when you first saw the baby.

FALKER: Well, once we saw the baby -- we had uncovered it by pulling maybe a foot of debris off of it, and we immediately reached down in there and pulled the baby out that was wrapped in a towel. And a neighbor who lives behind me had come out. And as I pulled the baby out, he had his hands out, and I put him right in his hands. And we had to bring the placenta, as well as the umbilical cord with the baby. And we put it all in a towel and wrapped it up. It was relatively well wrapped already.

Once we brought it out of the dumpster, we had already decided to call 911 the second time we heard a cry. But 911, the paramedics probably took eight minutes to get there. And in the meantime, we got another towel, wrapped the baby up and kept it warm and examined the baby superficially. And the baby had good color and everything.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The baby was stuck in his hand while we were up there holding it. The baby was nicely warm, I do believe because of the vegetation that was in the dumpster was decomposing. It always puts off heat. You know even when I opened it up, it was warmer than outside, the dumper was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We received a call for service this evening for a baby abandoned in a dumpster. Our investigation revealed a witness who says that they were placing some yard waste into a dumpster, at which time he heard a noise. We have found and located an abandoned baby boy, obviously newborn, and he`s being treated at an area hospital right now in stable condition and we will continue our investigation.


GRACE: The investigation now commences who left their baby to die in a public dumpster. Only a miracle saved the life of an infant boy. He was found, the placenta and the umbilical cord still attached.

Out to the lines, Rochelle in Louisiana. Hi, Rochelle.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

ROCHELLE: I just wanted to say, first of all, that there are so many more options that she could have did. You know, so many people out there want kids, will adopt them, you know. And she just had so many more options. But I just wanted to know, where will the baby go now?

GRACE: Good question. Out to Melanie Streeper with KTRS. Where will the baby go now?

MELANIE STREEPER, REPORTER, KTRS RADIO: Well, Nancy, this afternoon I talked to a representative from St. Louis Children`s Hospital. She did tell me that social service has stepped in and they have taken over the situation. I can tell you that the person from children`s hospital says that there`s just been an outpouring of support from the community.

People want to make donations, people want to step in and become a foster parent, or even an adoptive parent for this little boy.

GRACE: With us tonight is Margie Batek. She`s a clinical social worker there at St. Louis Children`s Hospital.

Margie, thank you for being with us. What is normally done when an unidentified child is brought to your hospital?

MARGIE BATEK, LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER, ST. LOUIS CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL: They`re usually brought into the emergency unit and the social worker on duty is notified if there are injuries to be documented, they will photograph those. And the physicians will do preliminary medical expansion.

And then the social worker will notify Department of Children and Family Services and either the police officer is present or the physician will take temporary protective custody for 12 hours while the court issues an actual order placing custody of the child with Missouri Children`s Division.

GRACE: Miss Batek, what are the safe haven laws in your state? She did not have to put the baby in the dumpster?

BATEK: No. Actually, it was very close to three hospitals. Our hospital, Barnes and Jewish, and every one of those three hospitals, a fire department, or a police officer could have accepted the baby, any parent can bring a baby under the age of one year to any medical facility, a fire department, or a police officer, and indicate that they would like to relinquish custody and they will not be charged with abandonment or endangerment.

There will be no follow up from it. They don`t have to provide any information. And the purpose of that law is to make it easy for someone to do the right thing with their children as opposed to what we had happen this time.

GRACE: Well, that is not the case. Now let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us, Susan Moss out of New York, Ray Giudice out of Atlanta, Paul Batista, New York.

Susan moss, weigh in.

SUSAN MOSS, CHILD ADVOCATE, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Who leaves a youngster in a dumpster? A criminal. That`s a criminal action. This was no act of mercy. This is actually something that will be prosecuted by a crime. There are safe haven laws. All she needed to do was find a police officer, find a firefighter, an EMT worker, a hospital staffer. This didn`t need to happen.

GRACE: To Ray Giudice, what type of charges is she looking at?

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, right off the bat, I`d say a first-degree felony cruelty to children, which in Georgia is punishable up to 20 years. However, listening to Mr. Falker describe the layout of the twigs and the branches, it seems that a creative district attorney might move for an attempted murder charge because of the intent to conceal the child.

GRACE: Very well put. What`s your defense, Ray?

GIUDICE: Well, I would argue to the contrary that that wasn`t her intent, but I have to have who the mother is, Nancy. Do we have a 13-year- old child with a baby that has a boyfriend that`s trying to force her into this? Nancy, you`ve got to know who the person is before you come up with your defense.

GRACE: Paul Batista?

PAUL BATISTA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, AUTHOR OF "DEATH`S WITNESS": Clearly, Nancy, this is a case, if there is any, of attempted murder. But as Ray says, we don`t know who the mother is, we don`t know who the father is, we don`t know what was done here. There may well be.

GRACE: OK, the two of you are -- you`re such great dancers because you`re dancing all around this. You should go on the "Dancing for the Stars" show.

Listen, if it`s a 13, 14-year-old girl, maybe you`ve got a defense.

GIUDICE: That`s our point.

GRACE: Anything older than that, she`s looking at jail time. The only thing that would save your client at this juncture, to Ray Giudice, Paul Batista, is if she never gets caught. Because the layout of those twigs and branches that Mr. Falker described, Sue Moss, shows me that she intentionally tried to cover the child up and did so very methodically. Se`s not crazy.

MOSS: That`s attempted murder. It`s attempted murder. She did everything she can to suffocate this kid by putting, apparently, a foot of brush over this child.

GRACE: You know it`s a miracle to me that the baby lived with all of the brush, the grass, the twigs, the limbs on top of it, wrapped in nothing but a towel.

Out to the lines, Erica in Ohio. Hi, Erica.

ERICA, OHIO RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. First of all, I want to tell you your show is the only show worth watching on TV. I have kind of two questions. I wanted to know if -- first of all, if there was a certain age the baby had to be to do the DNA testing? And I also wanted to know if that DNA testing would also lead to both the mother and the father, what would happen to them?

GRACE: To Dr. Marty Makary, what about DNA testing on a baby?

DR. MARTY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, PROF. OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS: So it`ll be a perfect match. If they can find a mother, that -- part of that mother`s DNA goes right to the baby. It`s call mitochondrial maternal DNA. It will be a perfect match if they can find the mother.

GRACE: But that`s the kicker, Mike Brooks. You have to be able to identify the mom in order to -- I mean, we find DNA on crime scenes all the time. But you`ve got to match them up to somebody. You`ve got to have someone to compare it to.

MIKE BROOKS, FMR. DC POLICE DETECTIVE SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: You`ve got to have a comparison, Nancy, for DNA. Now the other thing that could be on this dumpster, evidentiary wise, is could be fingerprints. Now if it`s a plastic dumpster, they can still get fingerprints, but if it`s the mother or maybe this male voice we heard in the alley in the early morning hours, if neither of them have had run-ins with the law before, they probably wouldn`t have any fingerprints on file.

GRACE: But here is the deal, Mike Brooks. Somebody knows, somebody knows a woman was pregnant yesterday and she`s not today and there`s not a baby. They know that somebody has been pregnant for many, many months.

BROOKS: Absolutely, Nancy. And one of the other things that investigators are going to look for, they`re going to go to the hospitals. There was apparently a campus of hospitals just a short distance away. Go there, go to the emergency room, see if anyone has come there suffering from hemorrhaging, those kinds of things, and maybe someone from watching this show will say, hey, wait a minute, I know somebody was pregnant and now she`s not pregnant anymore. So hopefully this will get the word out to other people who live in that area.

GRACE: The tip line, toll free, 866-371-8477.

To Ella in Mississippi. Hi, Ella.

ELLA, MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT: His, Nancy, how you doing?

GRACE: I`m good, dear. Thank you for calling in. What`s your question?

ELLA: May God bless you and your children, you all are so wonderful.

GRACE: Thank you.

ELLA: I want to say, do you think she may have been on drugs or something or maybe had a mental disorder? Because anybody in their right mind could not have did that.

GRACE: Well, you know what, Ella? As far as the mental disorder, the way that she methodically covered up the baby, that she went in the dark of the night tells me she planned this. That tells me she does not have a mental disorder to me.

But as far as drugs go, to Dr. Marty Makary, won`t they do a toxicology or drug test on the baby?

MAKARY: Absolutely. And within 24 hours, oftentimes, you can find substances. But you`re absolutely right about the mental disorder. The characteristic is paranoia with any mental disorder. This did not appear to be an act of paranoia.

GRACE: Out to Megan in Ohio. Hi, Megan.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

MEGAN: I have -- well, I have a 2-month-old baby of my own and I couldn`t imagine anything like this happening to him. My question was, is this -- was this baby born in a hospital, because isn`t if a baby is, you know, born in a hospital, wouldn`t the umbilical cord and placenta already be off?

GRACE: I don`t think it was born in a hospital.

What about it, Ann Rubin?

ANN RUBIN, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE KSDK: My guess is probably not born in a hospital. You know right now police don`t know who the parents are, so they don`t know where the child was born, but there`s a good chance maybe around the neighborhood somewhere.

GRACE: Thank you to Ann Rubin with KSDK, Melanie Streeper, KTRS, and Wesley Falker, the man who saved the little boy`s life.

When we come back, a 6-year-old little girl died in flames while mommy parties hardy at a local disco. Number one, where`s daddy? Number two, party`s over, mommy.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A Carrolton, Georgia woman is behind bars tonight after her 6-year-old daughter dies in an apartment fire while she was allegedly out clubbing. Twenty-four-year-old Erica Rutledge is charged with reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter for the death of her 6- year-old daughter, Jan`ya.

Rutledge claims she left Jan`ya and her 4-year-old brother home with a friend. But the friend says he had no idea the little girl was there or that Rutledge left. When the fire broke out, he and the 4-year-old boy made it out of the blaze alive, but little Jan`ya was left in the home sleeping.

State fire officials said Jan`ya died 12 hours after she was rushed to an Atlanta hospital. Over 80 percent of her body burned. Now mother Erica Rutledge faces up to 10 years in prison.


GRACE: While mommy`s out partying hardy at a local club, her 6-year- old little girl dies when the home turns into an inferno.

To Eric Jens with WLBB Newstalk 1330, tell me what happened.


Actually what we have is a 24-year-old single mother, who, according to her statements to police, doesn`t feel she did anything wrong in this case.

GRACE: What?

JENS: She went out to a club, she left her children at home in the custody of an adult male acquaintance. Now, of course, the story falls apart when we know how little or how, you know, basically nothing that this man knew of children being in the home.

GRACE: He didn`t even know the baby was there.

JENS: That`s right. According to his statements, he had no idea there were children in the home. He first realized that when the smoke and 4-year-old child woke him up telling him he needed to get out.

GRACE: The reality is, Eric Jens, this guy came over to crash on her sofa. He was in no way there as a baby-sitter.

JENS: Right, and that`s something that`s going to, obviously, play out as this case continues, but -- and obviously, the police after interviewing extensive witnesses over the course of the past nine days decided that charges were indeed warranted against Erica Rutledge.

GRACE: And what are the charges, Eric?

JENS: She`s charged with reckless conduct as well as involuntary manslaughter.

GRACE: I want to go to a special guest joining me tonight, John Oxendine. He`s the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire commissioner.

Mr. Oxendine, it`s great to have you on the airways with us. What do the preliminary investigations show as to the cause of the fire?

JOHN OXENDINE, GEORGIA INSURANCE AND SAFETY FIRE COMMISSIONER: At this point, we`re still under investigation. We don`t know exactly what caused the fire. There are three main possibilities we`re looking at. One is possible electrical malfunction. We`re going to be bringing in a forensic electrician on Thursday to either confirm or rule that out.

Another possibility is playing with matches or a lighter. And the other is that it could have been a cigarette, discarded cigarette. The mother did smoke. Entirely possible that she could have laid a cigarette down and within that one-hour time period could have caused this fire.


OXENDINE: We don`t know what happened. It`s just a possibility.

GRACE: Back to John Oxendine, again he`s the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire commissioner.

Mr. Oxendine, about what time did the fire break out?

OXENDINE: The fire broke out just after 1:30. The mother said.


OXENDINE: 1:30 a.m. the mother left about 12:30 a.m. so she had been gone about an hour.

GRACE: OK. So let`s take a look at your three options, Mr. Oxendine. You`ve got have an electrical malfunction that happens to have within one hour of mommy going out. You`ve got playing with matches at 1:30 in the morning. Who -- what kid -- you`ve got a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old -- is up playing with matches at 1:30 a.m., and the other one was a cigarette possibility?

OXENDINE: Yes, a cigarette could have been discarded around 12:30 and could have smoldered for an hour before it caused the blaze.

GRACE: What room, John, do you believe the fire originated?

OXENDINE: We`ve confirmed that the fire did start in the mother`s bedroom.

GRACE: Where either of the children playing in there?

OXENDINE: The little girl -- excuse me, the little boy that died was in his mother`s bed, watching the Cartoon Network, apparently, when she left. That`s her testimony.

GRACE: The little.

OXENDINE: The 6-year-old girl came home later, apparently from a neighbor`s house.

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Mike Brooks, this story is so falling apart. All right, if she`s going to give that kind of story, my advice to her, and I`m not a defense lawyer, would be to shut your pie hole. Because why would you have a one - - a 6-year-old girl just coming home? Go on and cry, lady, cry, because you`re in prison orange, uh-huh.

A 6-year-old girl coming home at 1:30 a.m. That doesn`t make any sense.

BROOKS: No. And this adult who was sleeping on the couch, crashing on the couch, didn`t even know that the little girl was there. He only thought that the boy was there. And apparently the firefighters encountered very, very heavy fire conditions when they got there, Nancy, and found the little girl in her bedroom.

But when mama got home, she asked, what happened, and she -- first thing she did was asked the boy, what did you do? She put it right on the little boy (INAUDIBLE).

GRACE: Out to the lawyers, Susan Moss, Ray Giudice, and Paul Batista.

To you, Ray Giudice, what`s the party mom`s defense? Now, you know this child was not in there playing with matches at 1:30 in the morning.

GIUDICE: That`s right, Nancy. But.

GRACE: All right? And it was an electrical malfunction that just happened to break out in the 45 minutes after the mom leaves.

GIUDICE: Nancy, the facts are that when the mom left to go clubbing, the gentleman was laying on the couch, the boy was asleep, and the 6-year- old girl was at a sleepover party. The family that had her at the sleepover party brought her back unannounced, the 6-year-old, and dropped her off at the house.

GRACE: OK. Fine.

GIUDICE: .and she walked in the front door so when mom.

GRACE: But that`s not my question.

GIUDICE: When mom leaves, she knows there`s an adult in the house and that the 6-year-old child is at a supervised sleepover party, and that`s what she leaves knowing. There is no intent to hurt those children.

GRACE: Yes, that`s why she`s charged with involuntary manslaughter. Ding, ding, ding.

GIUDICE: That`s correct. There`s no intent. There`s no intent.

GRACE: Sue Moss, let me get back to the original question that Ray Giudice just waltzed away from.

Clearly, they`re looking at the possibility she left a lit cigarette in her bedroom.

MOSS: Absolutely. And that`s -- the facts are going to show exactly what happened. But let`s look at this. You`ve got two main characters. This Sergio, the alleged baby-sitter, and mom, and you`ve got five different stories. This mother`s a liar and she caused the death of this kid by a fire.


GRACE: We are taking your calls live. Out to Melanie in Georgia. Hi, Melanie.

MELANIE, GEORGIA RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy, how you doing?

GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?

MELANIE: Well, actually, I`ve got two. I`d like to know if they`re really going to lock her up. And did she have an insurance policy on those kids?

GRACE: To Eric Jens with WLBB Newstalk 1330, what about insurance?

JENS: We don`t know anything on that for sure at this point, although from the investigations and what they`re telling me, that`s not an issue in this case.

GRACE: OK. And is she in custody tonight?

JENS: She was when I left this afternoon, and I believe she will be staying in custody for sometime.

GRACE: Paul Batista, if she`s convicted on involuntary manslaughter, how much time is she looking at?

BATISTA: Oh she could be looking at anything from four to eight years. It`s a very serious offense if she`s convicted, Nancy. She hasn`t been convicted yet.

GRACE: To -- thank you, Paul. To Gidget in South Carolina, what`s your question, dear?

GIDGET, SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: Yes. I just wanted to know, what is her chance of pleading insanity on this? And she has some kind of.

GRACE: Oh very quickly, Sue Moss, we`ve only got a few seconds left. When would she make that kind of a plea?

MOSS: Yes, she`d be crazy to plead insanity. That`s just not going to work. It rarely does because you need to show that you don`t know the difference between right and wrong and it`s a very high standard.

GRACE: Let`s stop, everyone, and remember Army Specialist Philip Pannier, 20, Washington, Illinois, killed, Iraq. A devoted friend, dreamed of being a cop, loved outdoors, on the farm, raising sheep, deer hunting, football and soccer. Leaves behind parents Robin and Donald, brothers Dan and Benjamin. He is preceded in death by brother Dale and fiancee Jennifer.

Philip Pannier, American hero.

Thank you to all of our guests, but especially for you being with us. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8 o`clock sharp, Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.