PEARL RIVER, La.-- The St. Tammany Sheriff's Office is investigating a case involving a woman who gave birth to a baby boy at home on Monday and then abandoned the newborn in the backyard overnight.
It happened in the 36000 block of Teat Blackwell Road in Pearl River. The newborn is in critical condition and investigators said his mother faces several charges.
"This is one of those cases that really defy logic," said St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain.
The sheriff's office said Kimberly Lee, 35, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday morning. They say she then wrapped the baby in a towel and left it outside in the backyard, where it remained overnight.
"She said she though the child was not living, but from our investigation and our perspective, we find that hard to believe," Strain said.
On Tuesday morning, Lee's 13-year-old son called 911 and said he found a baby on the ground in the backyard. The baby was crying and still had its umbilical chord attached. First responders rushed the newborn to a local hospital. He is now in critical, but stable condition.
"Had it now been for the actions of that baby's 13-year-old brother, who truly is a hero in this situation, if it had not been for his action, we would have been dealing with a murder," Strain said.
Investigators said Lee's husband told them he had no idea his wife had given birth and that she had left work on Tuesday morning. Though Lee's husband and her other three children knew she was pregnant, investigators believe Lee hid the fact that she had given birth.
When investigators caught up with her on Tuesday, she was at a local hospital, where she remains for now.
Acquaintances of Lee said they are shocked.
"I never would have expected her to do something like that," said Michelle Dunaway, who lives nearby. "I mean, she has three kids. She was always at the ballpark with the kids and everything, so it shocked me."
Once Lee is released from the hospital, she could face several charges, including second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and child desertion.
Lee's other three children include a 15-year-old, 13-year-old and 8-year-old. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is now involved in ensuring their safety.
Louisiana does have what is known as a "Safe Haven Law." It provides legal means for parents to anonymously give up custody of infants, without the threat of prosecution for neglect, abandonment or child cruelty.
Under the law, a parent can leave a baby up to 31 days old at any Louisiana designated emergency care facility, like a hospital, a medical clinic, fire or police station, among others.