Cold Case: Police investigate dead baby thrown off Shenandoah Bridge 15 years ago

West Virginia

Baby Christian was laid to rest at Edge Hill Cemetery on April 3, 2004, with no DNA linking the baby to the mother

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (WDVM) — On March 21, 2004, a call came through to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.

“I was working a day shift on patrol and I got a call from our dispatch center from the Harpers Ferry Park Service, that one of their rangers was on the river banks,” said Lt. David Colbert with Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.

The park ranger found a weighted trash bag with a deceased newborn inside.

Investigators believe that someone driving along the Shenandoah Bridge had thrown the bag off the side thinking it would go into the river, sink to the bottom and never be found.

The bag never made it to the river and landed along the rocks instead.

Authorities say the baby was found frozen and appeared to have been there for some period of time.

“It was born alive. We know that. It had air in its lungs at some point. It did die from blunt force trauma to the head. To determine if it was from the fall or if they did something to kill the baby prior to putting it in the trash bag, we can’t determine that at this point,” said Lt. Colbert.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said it investigated every lead and every piece of evidence.

“One was very extensive, a lot of information was out with it, however, but we weren’t able to link the baby to the mother at that time,” Lt. Colbert said.

Since they couldn’t figure out who the baby belonged to, the community and police department adopted the baby.

“Both officers and funeral homes of a religious nature, so it just seemed appropriate to name it baby Christian,” said Sgt. Robert Sell with Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.

On April 3, 2004, baby Christian was laid to rest at Edge Hill Cemetery.

“The whole department came together to respect and show honor to this tragic victim given the circumstances, so it was pretty powerful at that time,” Sgt. Sell said.

15 years later, the department continues searching for answers, because they won’t ever forget the tragedy that happened in Jefferson County.

“When you go down to the Shenandoah Bridge, there is always new crosses and new teddy bears people leave, its a constant reminder every time I go across that bridge, I always look and see what’s there and think about that morning, finding that baby,” said Lt. Colbert.

With new DNA technology, investigators are hoping to find a match to figure out who the baby belongs to.

West Virginia is one of several states with safe haven laws. The law allows parents to drop off their unwanted baby at a hospital or health facility within 30 days of the child’s birth.

Anyone with information on this cold case is asked to contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 304-728-3205.

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