It was a roommate who confided in officers three days after a 16-year-old Port Angeles female put her allegedly murdered infant into the garbage, that gave them an opportunity to find its body.
At about 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5, law enforcement officials discovered the dead newborn boy in a pile of Port Angeles garbage.
Officials were combing through the refuse on a tip that a Port Angeles teenager had drowned the infant and placed it in a 12th Street home's alleyway garbage container.
It had been spotted by a former tenant of the 12th Street home and reported to police. Waste Connections, the city of Port Angeles' waste manager, picked up the garbage, however, before officials could arrive in response to the report.
"The birth reportedly occurred Dec. 30 at 3 a.m.," said Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher.
"It was reported to us on Jan. 2 at 12:30 in the afternoon when a woman came forward who had previously lived at the residence and saw the infant in the garbage."
Gallagher said the informant's name would be kept confidential.
Port Angeles Police coordinated with Waste Connections officials to isolate the garbage transfer container where the city's trash was stored. Port Angeles garbage is trucked to the Tacoma area, put into containers and transported by train to a large dump in eastern Oregon.
A large-scale search involving Port Angeles Police detectives, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team members, and officials from several Pierce County agencies ensued at 8 a.m. on Jan. 5.
The infant was found six hours later amid 60 tons of garbage in Graham, where the garbage container was being stored.
The infant's mother, a 16-year-old female who will not be named unless she is charged as an adult, is in custody. She has not been charged but is due to be arraigned at 1 p.m. today, Jan. 7.
"She is being held under a 72-hour provision that prosecutors have in order to ascertain the degree what of the charges will be," Gallagher said.
The girl is likely to be charged with first- or second-degree murder, possibly as an adult.
Her father, Ronald Eugene Last Jr., was arrested after a search of the home allegedly revealed a firearm and suspected methamphetamine. The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney's office has charged Last, 41, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine, both felonies. He also will face the charge of concealing a birth, a gross misdemeanor.
"Prosecution has told me he has eight prior felony convictions," Gallagher said. "He is in jail on $10,000 bail, and the 16-year-old girl is in jail on ($500,000) bail."
Last will be arraigned at
9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 9.
They both lived in the home in Port Angeles with five other adult males and three to four younger children, he added. Last and the female were the only two arrested and charged in connection to the case.
"The story here is a really, really tough one to swallow," Gallagher said. "It's incredibly sad, and we're all a little taken back by these events."
Port Angeles Police Detective Jesse Winfield submitted an affidavit to the court indicating the 16-year-old "put her baby face down into a toilet and allowed it to drown for several minutes
until it died. Then she threw her son into the trash can outside."
Gallagher said the detective filed the affidavit with information based on witness and or suspect interviews.
The girl moved in with her father in October after moving to the area from Pueblo, Colo., where her mother lives. Gallagher said Pueblo's law enforcement indicates the baby's father is an adult and not another minor.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner's office will conduct an autopsy of the infant to determine the cause of death, and state labs will perform DNA testing to determine if the female suspect is the mother.
"The DNA test could take a month," Gallagher said. "I made sure to speak with my detectives yesterday and remind them that we need that test to make the link to the suspect."
'Safe Haven' law could have saved baby
The teenage mother of an allegedly murdered baby could have relinquished the infant to a hospital or fire station without fear of prosecution.
The Department of Social and Health Services has reminded Washington residents that they have options after giving birth to an unwanted infant.
Under the Safety of Newborn Children Law, which went into effect in 2002, a parent can take a newborn baby to a hospital or staffed fire station without being prosecuted.
Parents can give up babies within 72 hours of birth and not have to identify themselves, although staff at these facilities will ask for information that may improve the infant's well-being.
Last year, Nebraska's "safe haven" law made headlines because it was found to be overly broad, allowing parents to drop off children at any age. The 72-hour limit makes Washington's law much narrower.
The local hospital is Olympic Memorial Hospital, 939 Caroline St., Port Angeles.
Staffed fire stations in the Sequim area include the Clallam County Fire District 3 main office at 323 N. Fifth Ave., the Blyn station, 269160 Highway 101, and the Carlsborg station, 70 Carlsborg Road.
For more information on the newborn children law or the Department of Social and Health Services, visit www1.dshs.wa.gov/ca/safety/sfAbLaw.asp?1.
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