WORCESTER, Massachusetts - The uncle, aunt and estranged boyfriend of a slain woman whose baby was cut from her womb announced their intentions Monday to seek custody of the infant girl.
A closed-door custody hearing was held Monday in Worcester Juvenile Court.
The baby's mother, 23-year-old Darlene Haynes, was eight months' pregnant when she was found slain in her apartment last week. Her landlord found her body wrapped in bedding in a closet. The exact cause of her death has not been determined, but police said she suffered head trauma.
The baby was found two days later at a New Hampshire homeless shelter with Haynes' former neighbour, Julie Corey. Corey has been charged with kidnapping and is being held on $2 million bail.
The infant is now in state custody.
Roberto Rodriguez, 24, Haynes' estranged boyfriend, told The Associated Press outside court Monday that he wants custody of the baby and an 18-month-old girl he had with Haynes.
"I just want my two girls. That's all I want," Rodriguez said.
Haynes' uncle and aunt, Karl and Beverly Whitney, also filed paperwork Monday seeking guardianship of the child, attorney Debra Rosenthal said.
The Whitneys declined to discuss their custody request.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families did not return calls seeking comment about Monday's hearing.
Craig Smith, clerk magistrate of Worcester Juvenile Court, would not discuss the case specifically. But typically, he said, a judge would appoint an investigator to check on the background of anyone who seeks custody. Children generally remain in state custody until investigations are completed, Smith said.
Family members and Corey's boyfriend have said that Corey, 35, fooled them for months into believing she was pregnant. She later told them that she had given birth and presented Haynes' baby as her own, they said.
Haynes, who had three other children, had a restraining order against Rodriguez, who allegedly pushed her into a glass table in June and cut her arm, then grabbed her by the throat and slapped her, according to court records. Court records also showed Rodriguez was charged with hitting Haynes in 2008 in a case that was continued without a finding.
The 18-month-old girl is also in state custody. Karl Whitney told reporters last week that Haynes' grandmother, Joanne Haynes, is raising her two other children, Jasmine, 5, and Lillian, 3.