Abandoned baby's parents have 3 other children

Accused of neglect and assault


From Friday's Globe and Mail

May 23, 2008 at 3:11 AM EDT

TORONTO The disturbing tale of a baby girl found abandoned in a freezing north Toronto stairwell four months ago took a further grim twist yesterday as police announced the arrest of her biological parents on multiple charges of child neglect and assault.

Both aged 30 and unemployed, the pair were married about six years ago and had moved to Kitchener last month, Detective Keith Moxley told a news conference.

During the couple's brief court appearance later in the day, it was learned they have three other young children, all of whom have been in the care of the Children's Aid Society since their parents were arrested Wednesday night.

Their identity, and that of the baby they allegedly abandoned at a Leslie and Finch Plaza parking garage on Jan. 30, are shielded by a court-ordered publication ban.

The baby was thought to be about eight months old when found. But her exact age and real name are unclear because the pair have not been forthcoming, a police source said.

The child is, however, in a foster home and is thriving, CAS spokeswoman Melanie Persaud said. "Her foster mom describes her as the perfect 91/2-month-old. She has a healthy appetite, she eats well, she sleeps well, she's talkative, she's babbling, she is mobile."

It was a call to Crime Stoppers that cracked the case, Det. Moxley said.

"We had a huge number of tips that came in and one of the tips led us to investigate this couple that at the time lived in the North York area," he said.

"Without the help of the media and Crime Stoppers, this case would not have been solved."

After appearing in College Park criminal court yesterday afternoon, the couple were remanded in custody until a further court appearance next Thursday.

Each faces four charges: criminal negligence causing bodily harm; assault causing bodily harm; abandoning a child; and failing to provide the necessities of life.

Led into the small courtroom in handcuffs by a clutch of court officers, they sat next to each other as the charges were read out, but seemed subdued and made little eye contact. Each was ordered by the presiding justice of the peace to avoid all communications with each other and with any of their children.

Asked if he understood the charges, the father nodded. But his wife, who appeared to be pregnant, seemed confused, telling the court she did not want legal representation from duty counsel Brad Bechard, and that "I don't know what the procedures are."

From the outset, the case drew huge interest.

Temperatures were around the -14 mark when the baby - subsequently named Angelica-Leslie by the CAS - was found by a passerby in the concrete stairwell.

Clad in a snowsuit and a green hat, and bleeding from the nose and mouth, the baby had been there for about two hours, police later estimated. Video footage showed the driver of a green Ford Escort removing a package from the car and leaving it in the stairwell.

Police allege the accused father was the driver, identified by a television viewer who saw the video clip, which was posted by Crime Stoppers on YouTube.

Both parents had been interviewed twice before they were arrested Wednesday night, and DNA testing is believed to have shown conclusively that they are the baby's parents.

Both were known to police but neither has a criminal record, Det. Moxley said.

After the baby was found, more than 80 families stepped forward with offers to adopt her.

But two weeks ago, the CAS put the formal adoption process and an application for Crown wardship on hold for a month because police indicated they were closing in on suspects.

Ms. Persaud said the length of time it took to find the baby's parents makes the case stand out, and that finally discovering who she is "is going to mean a world to this child, because, at the very least, she will have some social history and some medical history."