Authorities Trying to Determine if Newborn Died Before Being Left at Fire Station in Duffel Bag

·3 min read
Chicago Fire Station
Chicago Fire Station

Google Maps Chicago Fire Department’s air mask services building at 1044 N. Orleans Street

Chicago authorities continue to look for answers after a newborn baby boy was found dead inside a duffel bag that was left outside a local fire station over the weekend.

The infant's body was found around 5 a.m. on Saturday outside of a station on the 1000 block of North Orleans Street, the Chicago Police Department previously told PEOPLE.

As police continue their investigation, it remains unclear how long the newborn had been outside and if he was dead before being left at the station.

An autopsy was completed on Sunday, but a cause of death and manner of death are still pending, a spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office tells PEOPLE.

The Chicago Police Department confirms that there are no updates to share amid their investigation.

RELATED: Newborn Baby Found Dead Inside Duffel Bag Left Outside Chicago Fire Station Despite Safe Haven Law

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the station where the newborn was left is often understaffed — and workers there were unaware of what had happened until they went outside that morning to shovel snow.

"They were in and out so much that morning that no one heard the doorbell," Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told the outlet, noting that the firehouse is an air supply maintenance facility.

Although the station does have a "Safe Haven" sign on one of its doors — which allows parents to hand over newborns at designated safe places with no questions asked — the law requires that the children be physically given to someone.

"We're trying to make it clear that you have to make contact," Langford told the outlet. "Ringing a bell is not making contact. You have to physically see someone and hand the child over."

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Over the weekend, the Chicago Fire Department issued a reminder about the law on social media.

"Illinois' Safe Haven law is a safe way for parents who make the difficult choice to give up a newborn for adoption," they wrote. "Handing over a newborn to a Firefighter or Paramedic directly at a firehouse can help facilitate the safest outcome. No questions asked and no judgment given."

Per the law, which was passed in 2001, unharmed newborns up to 30 days old may be handed to workers at designated locations — including hospitals, emergency care facilities, police stations and firehouses — without fear of legal prosecution for the parents, according to the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation.

The parents of the late newborn will potentially face arrest and charges, officials previously told The Chicago Tribune.

A police officer told CBS Chicago that authorities are hoping surveillance cameras will aid their ongoing investigation.

RELATED: Newborn Baby Found Abandoned in Alaska with Note from Mother Asking to Find Him 'Loving Family'

Since the Safe Haven law passed, at least 144 babies had been taken to a Safe Haven location in Illinois, per The Chicago-Sun Times. During the same time period, 87 babies were found illegally abandoned, and 51% of those newborns died.

"Our mantra has been, from day one, if we can save one baby, it's worth it. And, along with that, when there's another dead baby, we know our work is not done," Dawn Geras, head of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, told the newspaper.

Geras added, "This is an opportunity to wake up the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, the entire country, that baby safe haven laws exist to prevent this from happening."

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