Rockland County police have posted an urgent appeal in Yiddish to help them solve the mystery of the death of a baby whom they think was killed by the mother who works for a Haredi family as a housekeeper.
The baby was found dead last Tuesday, wrapped in a Haredi-style skirt and stuffed inside a plastic bag at a recycling center in Rockland County, New York. The state’s Crime Stoppers has offered $2,500 for help to find the mother, who for the time being is considered also to be the murderer.
Police said all examinations conclude that the baby was born alive and of Hispanic descent. The baby was found with the umbilical cord attached and was less than a day old. Police are combing the area and seeking information about a woman who recently was pregnant and now is without her child.
Investigators said they found lottery tickets in the bag, enabling them to trace the tickets to a delicatessen in Spring Valley, where they were bought. Police concluded with certainty that the bag and baby were first thrown into a dumpster at the deli before the contents were trucked to the recycling center where the dead baby was discovered.
An appeal was made in Yiddish because the skirt on the baby were identical to those worn by Haredi women and, based on its label “Exclusive Missok,” is sold at only two stores in the heavily Haredi-populated area and for a price of approximately $400.
Police think a Haredi family employed the woman as a housekeeper, gave her the long black skirt in keeping with modest dress style of Orthodox families, and that the skirt hid her pregnancy. If the same woman murdered her baby while hiding her pregnancy, she could have returned to work as usual without her employers knowing that she had been pregnant.
“The baby is believed to be of Spanish origin, but the skirt it was wrapped in leads us to believe that the mother may have been employed at a Jewish home,” Spring Valley Police Detective Peter Claussen told VIN News.
“We understand that in many Jewish homes they often provide their cleaning help with skirts to wear while they work,” he explained. “We are also aware that in many Jewish homes, they don’t want pregnant workers working for them. If this woman was a housekeeper in a home like this, she might have gone to great lengths to conceal that pregnancy and her employers may not have even been aware that she was pregnant.”
The mystery prompted Claussen to add, “I have been here for 33 years and have only seen one other case similar to this one.”
There is no clue concerning the identity of the father, who could have been anyone the woman might have met when not working at the home during the day.
Claussen admitted that the Haredi-style skirt does not prove that the mother was a cleaning lady for a Haredi family. Theoretically, she could have bought the skirt at a local thrift store, but his speculation is all the police have at the moment.
The appeal in Yiddish might shed new light on the case since many, if not most, of the Haredi community in the area do not read local English language newspapers.
The case remains a “whodunit?” Claussen speculated, “Did someone supply a cleaning lady with a skirt of that brand in that size? Is that person still working for them? Was she pregnant? Did she not come back to work? If she did come back to work, did she ask for another skirt?”
New York State law allows parent to abandon unwanted children with hospital and police officials under certain circumstances.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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