Puzzle of baby found in river weighs on sheriff

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 14, 2012 - 11:59 PM

Months after 'Angel' was found in the Mississippi, authorities are still looking for answers. Services for the infant girl will be in April.

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The baby was found in the Mississippi River, not far from the Pla-Mor Campground & Marina, near Winona, Minn.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Winona County Sheriff David S. Brand has a tombstone for a baby, but he doesn't know what to put on it.

The body of the unidentified infant girl was discovered in the Mississippi River on Sept. 5. Since then, Brand and authorities in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been searching for the baby's parents.

After more than six months of searching with no results, Brand decided it was time to bury the little girl he and other law enforcement officials are calling Angel because of the angel figurines that were found with her.

"We're still looking, but it was time to give her a Christian burial," Brand said. "We're always thinking about why somebody'd do this."

The baby, found by a family boating on the river, will be buried on April 7 at Woodland Cemetery in Winona. A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. that day at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Winona.

Brand said Sunday that those locations were selected because they were among the many organizations that offered their services and their help in dealing with the deceased baby.

Among the items donated was the gravestone. But "we still don't know what to put on it," Brand said.

The Winona County Sheriff's Office has received dozens of calls or e-mails about the baby, and followed up on an equal number of leads in looking for her parents or other family.

The infant, with a roughly cut umbilical cord, was found wrapped in a green T-shirt that bore a faded image of a slice of toast. It was inside a zippered bag. Also embroidered on the shirt were sailboats and the name of the Mexican city of Manzanillo. Also in the bag were several angel figurines.

Authorities have visited hospitals, schools, social service agencies, campgrounds, factories and other businesses in search of the child's family.

Brand said DNA tests have been done on some individuals to see if they might be related to the baby or connected to the case, but nothing has come of the leads.

"We're not giving up," Brand said. "I don't do that."

He said that anyone with information should call 507-457-6368.

He said the department is also looking for donations. "We want to put flowers on the gravesite every year," he said.

Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281

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