An 8-month-old girl stuffed in a plastic trash bag and abandoned behind a home here was left for 72 hours before she was found, authorities said Wednesday.
Her 17-year-old mother, Harriette M. Hoyt of Sayre, Pa., was arrested late Tuesday and charged with second-degree attempted murder. She remained Wednesday in Chemung County Jail in Elmira after an arraignment in Elmira City Court; her next court appearance is Monday.
Elmira, a city of about 30,000 in an area of upstate New York called the Southern Tier, is less than 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Sayre is about 20 miles southeast via Interstate 86.
At about 1 p.m. Tuesday, neighbors in the block of clapboard houses near Grove Park here found the infant, whose feet were sticking out of the white garbage bag. Initially, they thought they had heard a cat crying.
“Her legs were just dangling in the bag. Her head was in the bag. Her whole head was covered all the way down. I tore it,” Kayla Seals, who rescued the girl, told WENY-TV, Horseheads, N.Y.
The child was filthy and covered in waste, Seals said. After taking the girl out of the bag, neighbors called the police and cleaned her.
“Obviously, it’s very heroic on their part to render aid, immediately get (her) inside, as you would expect any decent human being to do,” Elmira Police Sgt. William Solt said. “They washed up the baby as quickly as they could and did whatever they could until first responders arrived. They are truly heroes in this incident.”
Police are continuing to investigate.
The dehydrated infant was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. Although she was in stable condition, she was transferred to another hospital for further evaluation, and police said Wednesday afternoon that she is expected to make a full recovery.
New York’s Abandoned Infant Protection Act allows a parent to leave a child with another person or in a safe location such as a hospital, police station or fire station if authorities are promptly notified of the infant’s location. But the law covers only newborns up to 30 days old.
Pennsylvania’s Newborn Protection Act, also known as the Safe Haven Law, allows mothers to drop off newborns up to 28 days old at any hospital in the state.
If convicted of the attempted murder charge, Hoyt could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.