02/27/07 — Rest in Peace Baby Boy Doe

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Rest in Peace Baby Boy Doe

By Lee Williams
Published in News on February 27, 2007 1:51 PM

WARSAW -- Tears trickled down her cheek as JoAnn Benson stared at the tiny, white coffin that held the abandoned baby boy found dead at a vacant home on Chelly Street three weeks ago.

Ms. Benson was one of more than 100 people from all across the state who came to say goodbye Monday to the as-yet identified infant.

There few dry eyes in the crowd as the Rev. Jerry Ezell delivered the eulogy during the graveside service for Baby Boy Doe at Devotional Gardens in Warsaw.

"We've had tragedies in Warsaw," Ezell said. "But this has touched the hearts and minds of many people. This is a tragedy that we don't understand. We don't understand, but I'm serving a God that understands all, and I believe with all my heart that this child is resting in the arms of the living God."

A woman tried to console Ms. Benson as the service continued, but the tears kept flowing.

"This little boy will never get to see his mommy and daddy. He will never know his grandfather or grandmother. He will never say 'Oh Papa. Oh Papa or Nana,'" said Doris Petrak during the service. "He will never get a chance to play. He will never graduate from school. He will never have that beautiful wedding day like you and I."

Ms. Benson and her boyfriend, Cecil Guy, had a special connection to the baby. They were the ones who found the baby wrapped inside of a blanket while house hunting about 1 p.m. Feb. 6.

It is a day that Ms. Benson and Guy will never forget.

"The baby was naked underneath the blanket," she said. "It had no clothes on or a diaper. The baby had black hair. It was a beautiful baby."

The couple didn't know who the parents were or why someone chose to leave the baby at the home that belonged to her late husband's cousin. All she knew is that she felt helpless.

"The baby was dead right in front of me and there was nothing I could do," she said.

Exposure to the cold played a major factor in the baby's death, Warsaw police said. It was a death that many say could have been avoided.

The safe haven law now on the books allows mothers to turn over any baby up to 7 days old to any responsible adult with no questions asked, officials said.

Ms. Benson and Guy were powerless to change the course of Baby Boy Doe's life, but they wanted to ensure the infant knew that despite his tragic end, he indeed was loved.

So, Guy donated a burial plot, which is right beside his wife, Mary Louise Guy, in Devotional Gardens. Quinn and McGowan of Wallace performed the service free of charge.

"I wanted him to have a decent burial, and I knew my wife would take care of him," Guy said.

Many who attended the service struggled to come to grips with what they called a "senseless tragedy." Many say they would have gladly taken the baby in with no questions asked.

Autopsy results showed the baby was either Caucasian or Hispanic or both. No signs of physical abuse were noted, and the baby was born alive, officials said.

"How could anybody do that to a child," Retha Lowe of Warsaw said. "So many people want children and can't have them and the mother just gave birth to him and left him."

The mother and father have yet to come forward, police said. But Margaret Hobson of Warsaw said the parents should turn themselves in and face the consequences, so that Baby Doe can have the closure he deserves.

Mrs. Lowe spoke of the rash of babies who have been left by their mothers.

In Rocky Mount, a baby was found dead in a trash dumpster Feb. 7. Police are pursuing that as a murder. In Zebulon, a baby was abandoned at a McDonald's Dec. 7. The baby's mother faces child abuse charges. In Goldsboro, a baby was found dead at a lift station behind a truck stop Feb. 9, 2006.

Mrs. Lowe, who has a 18-month-old great-granddaughter, said hearing about the cases, just makes her want to protect her loved ones even more.