Surveillance video taken outside a New Mexico store shows the chilling moment a teen mom threw her newborn baby boy into a dumpster, and then five hours later, it shows the rescuers pulling him to safety.
"I got a call about 8:30 on Friday, and Hobbs PD said, ‘Hey Joe are your cameras working out back?’" Joe Imbriale, the owner of Rig Outfitters, said. "They said we have a crime scene."
He initially thought someone had broken into the store. But the video showed a woman pulling up in broad daylight on a Friday afternoon, tossing a black bag from the backseat into the dumpster, then driving off.
Nearly six hours later, the video shows a group of people who had heard the baby crying, digging through the dumpster, and pulling the baby out.
Acting Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said during a news briefing Monday afternoon that the three people were scavenging in the dumpsters "for anything of value" when they heard the baby. They looked closer and found the male newborn inside a trash bag.
They found the baby, wrapped in a "dirty, wet towel" covered in dried blood and with his umbilical cord still attached, the chief said.
Police identified the good Samaritans as Michael Green, Hector Jasso, and April Nuttall.
Jasso told police that at first, they thought the crying might have been a kitten, but when he picked up the bag, he could tell it was too heavy. Nuttall took the child out of the bag and immediately cradled him in the towel while Green called 911.
"Their collective quick response to this emergency, including notification of 911, was absolutely pivotal in saving this baby’s life," Fons said.
A short while later, investigators called Imbriale and asked if they could review his surveillance cameras.
"They said we’re looking for somebody that dumped a black garbage bag in your dumpster, and I knew right then, I turned to the officer and said, ‘Please don’t tell me it’s a baby,’" he said.
The room got emotional, he said, but one of the officers interjected: "The baby’s still alive. Don’t worry.”
After reviewing the video, Hobbs police charged the mother, 18-year-old Alexis Avila, with attempted murder and child abuse. They said she confessed to investigators. Fons said investigators would not release the suspected father's identity because he is a juvenile.
Avila told investigators that she was not aware that she was pregnant until last week when she went to the doctor for abdominal pain. She also told police she ended her relationship with the father back in August.
During her interview with investigators, police said "Alexis referred to the baby as ‘it’ at all times." When detectives asked what she thought would happen to a baby left in a plastic bag, she didn't answer.
The baby was taken to a nearby hospital and later transported by helicopter to another hospital in Lubbock, Texas, where he is in stable condition.
Fifth Judicial District prosecutors said the charges could be amended once Avila is arraigned.
All 50 states have "safe haven" laws that allow newborn children to be surrendered safely to a designated location, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.