Crime

She left a newborn in the trash more than a decade ago. Police are still looking for her

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Police are hoping the public can help end a 13-year search for a woman accused of dumping her newborn in the garbage.

Franklin County prosecutors charged Virginia Ortiz-Espana, 39, with second-degree manslaughter in 2007, about seven months after her brother rushed her to Lourdes Medical Center because she was bleeding, according to court records.

Investigators later learned she gave birth in March 2006 outside of the Mesa trailer they lived in shortly before he found her. Police and prosecutors believe she wrapped up the girl and left her in the trash, according to court records.

Ortiz-España told detectives that the baby wasn’t crying or moving when she was born.

Later, she told several different stories about how she became pregnant, first saying she was raped, then later saying she was involved with a married man.

She said she didn’t want to upset her brother because she was pregnant, and thought the child was dead.

Medical examiners at the time believed the baby was at least two months premature. While they couldn’t determine why the baby died, a jury at a coroner’s inquest determined the death was a homicide.

At the inquest, a forensic pathologist testified that the baby’s injuries were consistent with a prolonged or difficult birth and show the baby was alive at the time. However, two forensic pathologists couldn’t say if the baby would have lived if she’d received immediate medical attention.

In the years since the charges were filed, Ortiz-Espana has never been arrested.

Ortiz-Espana had been in the U.S. only a few weeks when she gave birth. Investigators believe she returned to Mexico.

She is described as 4-foot-4 and 110 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information can call Tri-Cities Crime Stroppers at 509-586-8477 or 800-222-8477 or submit a tip online at tricitiescrimestoppers.org. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in a felony case. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.

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