Fetus found in teen shoplifter’s bag likely born alive, police say

fetus herald square victoria's secret
Police say it’s becoming more and more likely that the fetus found in a 17-year-old girl’s bag at the Victoria’s Secret in Herald Square was born alive.
Credit: Google

Police say it’s becoming more and more likely that the baby found in a 17-year-old girl’s bag at the Victoria’s Secret in Herald Square on Thursday was born alive.

Tiona Rodriguez and Francis Esteves, both 17 years old, were originally stopped by store security who said they saw the pair taking items into the dressing rooms and hiding them in their bags.

But when the teens were stopped, a strong smell was coming from Rodriguez’s canvas tote bag. Store security searched the bag and found a dead baby wrapped in a pair of jeans and inside a plastic bag, police said.

Rodriguez has no prior arrests, according to police reports. Esteves has two.

Rodriguez told police that she was taking a shower at Esteves’ home in Glendale, Queens on Oct. 16 when she miscarried. She said she checked for a pulse but didn’t find one.

Esteves reportedly told police that Rodriguez was in the shower for two hours and when she came out her pants were bloody.

Rodriguez has a two-year-old son, police said. The father of the child is also believed to be the father of the fetus.

According to a law enforcement source, the Medical Examiner’s autopsy showed the fetus was in fact fully developed at nine to 10 months and weighed about eight and a half pounds. Frothing in the baby’s mouth indicated he may have taken at least one breath, and there was discoloration around his mouth that the source said could be from being carried around in the bag or a hand having been clasped over his mouth. X-rays showed air bubbles in the baby’s stomach, leading officials to believe he was born alive.

Further examination showed that oxygen had circulated through the fetus’ lungs, stomach, small intestines and colon, the source said. It is not yet known if the fetus suffocated or was drowned.

The official cause of death won’t be known for another three to four weeks pending a toxicology report, but the Medical Examiner expects to rule the death a homicide, the law enforcement source said.

The two girls were arraigned Saturday on misdemeanor charges for shoplifting.

Estevez is accused of attempting to steal nearly $200 in merchandise, including two shirts, cosmetics, and an iPhone case. Rodriguez was allegedly found with a $44.50 pair of pants in her bag.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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