A 17-year-old girl told police she was the one who gave birth to an infant whose remains were found in the trunk of a car Tuesday afternoon by an auto repair worker at a garage.
In an interview with police Tuesday night, she told investigators she “didn’t know she was pregnant and had the child at home,” Shelby Police Chief Charlie Roub said.
So far in the investigation, it’s not clear at that point what was going on with the child, Roub said, whether it was stillborn or a healthy birth. “That’s something that will have to be learned through an autopsy,” he said.
The body, inside a copy paper box in the trunk of a white car at Broadway Automotive and Exhaust, 211 N. Gamble St., was discovered just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, Roub said.
The girl is a local resident who has not been taken into custody. She told police she wrapped the child in a towel — like a bath towel, Roub said — and placed the child in the trunk of the car in late January or early February.
The car, a Mazda, belongs to a family member, the chief said.
Investigators aren’t sure of the infant’s gender, Roub said, but the girl knows who the father is and gave police a name.
“We’re not sure if he was aware she was pregnant. Our indication is that he did not know,” Roub said.
An investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification was on scene, as was Assistant Prosecutor Gary Bishop from the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office. He was there as a matter of routine, Roub said, and his presence doesn’t mean criminal charges will be pursued.
Roub said investigators do not know how long the body had been in the car.
Mary Enderby told the Mansfield News Journal that her fiance Ronnie Hamilton, who owns the garage, and her 13-year-old son and nephew were working on the vehicle Tuesday when they noticed an odor.
“That same car was here last week with those girls getting it worked on. I told Ronnie there was something off about them,” she said.
She said someone came back and picked up the car but returned it to the garage Tuesday at about noon to have a shake in the rear end looked at.
The remains were taken to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office for the autopsy,
“Hopefully in a few days we’ll be getting some preliminary information” about a cause of death, Roub said.
Shelby is about 151 miles northeast of Dayton.