10/13/04 — Ballree thinks teen mother just young and unaware of surrender program

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Ballree thinks teen mother just young and unaware of surrender program

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 13, 2004 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Police Chief Emmett Ballree thinks a Guatemalan teen-ager charged with abandoning her newborn was just "19 and scared. She had no family here."

Gloria Vasquez, 18, of Cleveland Drive in Mount Olive, was charged with murder Monday. She had been in the Wayne County Jail under $50,000 bond since Saturday night on a charge of concealing the birth of a child. But Monday, results came back from the medical examiner's office saying air was inside the body. The baby had breathed.

A cleaning crew found the body Saturday afternoon in an empty mobile home on Grainger Place near where the girl lived. The umbilical cord and placenta were still connected.

The girl, who has no previous criminal record, told investigators the baby was born dead.

"I wish she had known about the safe surrender program, so the baby might have had a chance," said Ballree. Under the Safe Surrender program, any woman can take her baby to a hospital or other designated place where there's emergency medical services or law enforcement people, and the baby can be left, "no questions asked."

That is where the language barrier and the culture barrier really hurts, said Ballree.

Police at the scene spoke to all of the witnesses at the trailer court through translators. Everybody they interviewed was "very disturbed about the abandonment of the baby," said Ballree. "It really upset them... They're very family oriented people. I bet there were 12 families in that trailer court that would have taken that baby, no matter how many they already had."