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3 abandoned babies, 1 mother

Published March 29, 2007


OROSI, Calif. - The first newborn was discovered swaddled in a blanket on a park bench, an umbilical cord still hanging from his tiny body. Then, at 11-month intervals, two more abandoned babies were found in parked pickups in the same neighborhood.

This week, DNA tests established all three babies were almost certainly born to the same mother.

Now, in a heartbreaking mystery that has transfixed this central California farm community of 7,300, investigators are trying to find the mother and figure out what drove her to such desperate lengths.

"How can the relatives not see this girl pregnant, and then see that she's not pregnant anymore and not ask where's the baby? Somebody must know something," said Hortencia Espino, 81.

All three newborns were found within a two-block radius. The first two survived and are now wards of the state.

The third baby was found dead of exposure on the cold night of Dec. 3. She was enveloped in a sweat shirt in the bed of a pickup parked near the high school.

On Wednesday, a Catholic church held a baptism and funeral Mass in Spanish and English for the baby girl, who was dubbed Angelita DeOrosi, or Orosi's little angel.

Marely Pena, who found the infant in her father's truck, cried behind dark glasses.

"I ask myself every day what if she had been alive. We could have saved her," said Pena, 25. "I just hope the mother comes forward to please just make us feel at ease."

After exhausting all leads, officials are asking the community for help finding the parents and are offering a $5,000 reward. Police said the mother could face criminal charges. But they also said they want to make sure she isn't in some kind of distress.

The first deserted newborn was found Feb. 10, 2005, a barely breathing boy with a body temperature of just 85 degrees. On Jan. 8, 2006, a resident discovered a full-term baby girl inside a pickup two blocks away.

On Monday, sheriff's officials announced the DNA results. The first two babies probably had the same father, but Angelita was fathered by a different man.

[Last modified March 29, 2007, 01:58:22]

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