Mike was making his usual rounds late Saturday morning when he pedaled his bicycle up to the Dumpster behind the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 99 in Medford.

Mike was making his usual rounds late Saturday morning when he pedaled his bicycle up to the Dumpster behind the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 99 in Medford.

“I was doing my ‘canning,’ ” explained the homeless man, who declined to give his last name. “I lifted a T-shirt I found and it just rolled sideways out of the T-shirt.

“First, I thought it was one of those real life-looking type dolls,” he added. “I’ve seen ’em before. But it looked so real I had to give it a second look. I didn’t want to, but I had to.”

A second glance confirmed his worst fears.

What he found in the Dumpster at about 10:30 a.m. was a dead baby girl, according to Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau of the Medford Police Department.

“When we arrived on scene, we were able to confirm that it is in fact an infant child, Caucasian female, inside the Dumpster,” Budreau said in a briefing to the press shortly after noon Saturday. “At this point, we are treating the scene as a homicide until we figure out exactly what caused the death of the child.”
The baby appears to have been a newborn, he said, adding, “We don’t know the manner or cause of death.”

Budreau confirmed that the transient found the baby while looking for cans, then alerted hotel staff who immediately contacted police.

The body has been taken to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab in Central Point, where Oregon State Deputy Medical Examiner James Olson was expected to do an autopsy in hopes of determining time and cause of death. DNA testing will also be conducted at the lab, Budreau said.

“The trash in question we believe was received from the Holiday Inn Express hotel,” Budreau said. “We are trying to determine whether the crime occurred here.”

He said it is possible that someone not associated with the inn could have placed the baby in the Dumpster. Although the trash receptacle is closed off by a metal gate, there appears to be an open slot above the gate where something could have been thrown into the Dumpster.

“It could be the baby died of natural causes and was discarded here,” Budreau said. “It could be the baby was killed. We do not know at this point.”
Police were talking to guests as well as the staff at the inn to determine whether they knew anything about the crime.

A woman who answered the telephone at the inn Saturday afternoon said the staff could not talk about the case to the media.

The last trash pickup at the site was at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Budreau said, adding the baby appears to have been placed in the Dumpster between then and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Until evidence determines otherwise, the case will be treated as a homicide, he said.

“We would really like to talk to the mother,” he stressed. “We believe the child was recently born. We would like to talk to the mother to figure out why it was disposed of in this manner.”

If the baby died of natural causes, the person leaving the body in the Dumpster could be charged with the felony of abusing a corpse, Budreau said.

Although police officers are accustomed to seeing disturbing sights, dealing with a newborn baby found in a Dumpster is tough on anyone, he acknowledged.

“The death of a baby is always tragic,” Budreau said. “Right now, our focus is on getting some answers in this case. Our focus is to figure out who placed the baby here and who the mother is.”

Mike, the homeless man who found the baby, hopes the police will crack the case soon. The transient, who described himself as 48 and a veteran of the homeless world, was interviewed away from the scene after he had talked to officers.

“Whoever the lady is out there who did this, you done a very, very wrongful thing,” he said. “And they are gonna catch you. There is no doubt about that.”
The sight of the baby’s body was very upsetting, he stressed.

“I was shaken up,” he said. “I really didn’t want to talk to any of you (media) guys. It was devastating. I have three daughters of my own that are grown.

“Seeing what I saw was really disturbing,” he added. “I don’t understand why the girl — or the woman — could have not called the police and said, ‘Hey, my baby died.’ To be this heartless — it’s just not right.”

He said he once worked in a security job which included periodically finding dead people in their rooms.

“I know the procedure,” he said.

The man, who was wearing two crosses on slender chains and a baseball cap that announced, “Walk with Jesus,” said he attends the Bread of Life Church in Medford.

“Every day I make this round,” he said of checking Dumpsters. “Like I told the officers, this is where you can find me every day.”

But Saturday was a day he said he will not soon forget.

“I’ve found a lot of things out canning,” Mike said. “I found dead animals like chickens and deer parts, things like that. But never anything like this.
“It’s just not right,” he added before pedaling off.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.