A New York City police officer stands in front of the Victoria's Secret Herald Square store in midtown Manhattan.
(Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)
NEW YORK (AP) - A dead baby found in a teenage girl's shopping bag at a lingerie store was born alive and then asphyxiated, police said Friday, as the macabre discovery turned toward a possible homicide case.
Police believe 17-year-old Tiana Rodriguez gave birth to the baby at a friend's house and that the infant was later asphyxiated. The city medical examiner's office said an autopsy was inconclusive, and more tests were needed.
Little was immediately clear about the circumstances of Rodriguez' pregnancy and the baby's death. Some neighbors told reporters they hadn't realized she was carrying a child.
Rodriguez remained hospitalized Friday after the find a day earlier, and a woman who answered the phone at a possible home number for her said she knew nothing about the matter. A message left at another possible number for Rodriguez wasn't immediately returned.
A security guard found the child's body in a bag Rodriguez was carrying Thursday as she and another 17-year-old girl, Francis Estevez, browsed at a Victoria's Secret store in midtown Manhattan, police said. The guard stopped them on suspicion they were shoplifting, and both were ultimately arrested on petit larceny charges.
Rodriguez told detectives she was carrying the remains because she had delivered a day earlier and didn't know what to do, authorities said.
Rodriguez could face more serious charges related to the baby's death.
The Associated Press is identifying both teens because in New York, older teens are treated as adults, and their cases are handled in criminal courts. Suspects between 7 and 15 may be charged as juveniles and their cases handled in family courts.
A woman who said she was Estevez's mother hung up after saying she hadn't spoken with her daughter since her arrest. It wasn't clear whether either Estevez or Rodriguez had a lawyer.
One of Rodriguez's neighbors, Zami Ford, told the Daily News she was unaware of the teen's pregnancy and stunned by the allegations.
"She's a good girl," Ford told the newspaper. "I can't believe she would do that."
Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.