AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mother of the newborn baby girl found in a dumpster two weeks ago has been arrested and identified by police.
Althea Johnson, 27, was arrested Tuesday morning and is facing a charge of abandoning a child, a second-degree felony.
The newborn was found in a dumpster at the Mira Vista Apartment at 9601 Middle Fiskville Rd., near Rundberg Lane, around 6:55 a.m. on Oct. 25.
A witness said the umbilical cord was still attached to the baby. The girl, who was initially rushed to the hospital in critical condition, has been released from the hospital and is with family, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said.
The day after the newborn was found, Austin police said they knew who the mother was, but would not identify her publicly to protect the integrity of their investigation.
The newborn’s two siblings were placed with other family members by Child Protective Services, which also has custody of the newborn girl.
Teresa Reese, who lives in the apartment complex, told KXAN she was getting ready to take her daughter to school when she saw a man hovering over the dumpster. The man asked her for the name of the apartment complex and told her there was a baby inside the dumpster. “I just started crying hysterically,” Reese said the day it happened.”
She went on to say, “My life will never be the same because of this experience… No child should ever have to go through that.”
When KXAN caught back up with Reese after Johnson’s arrest, she said she and other neighbors had been suspicious of Johnson. Reese says some saw her still pregnant the day before the baby was found. She also says Johnson was outside watching the investigation on the day the baby was discovered.
“She actually approached me,” Reese recalled. “No emotion, no anything, and she was like, ‘What happened?’ And I’m like, I looked straight at her stomach, I don’t know why but I just looked straight at her stomach and I’m like, ‘Someone threw a baby in the dumpster,’ and there was no emotion. Everybody else was hysterical, we’re crying, we feel this, and with her there was no emotion, whatsoever.”
Knowing Johnson already had other children, Reese says the idea that the newborn could be abandoned is unfathomable.
“You know what it’s like to give life, you know what it’s like to see that beautiful being,” Reese said. “You had to take the time out to lay eyes on this baby, you had to take the time out to wrap this baby up, you had to take the time out to walk from your place all the way to the dumpster, and not in any one of those moments, not in any one of those moments did you think, ‘I can’t do this.’ Not one time did you have remorse.”
An Austin Police Department child abuse detective will be speaking about the case Wednesday at 10 a.m. KXAN will live stream the press briefing online.
After the newborn was found, officials reminded parents that unharmed newborn babies can be brought to any hospital, fire station or emergency medical services (EMS) station in Texas without the fear of being prosecuted for abandonment or neglect. For more information on designated Safe Havens, visit the Department of Family and Protective Services website.