Needham police and the Norfolk district attorney’s office are taking a new look at the death of a newborn baby whose body was found 26 years ago in a town park, the district attorney’s office confirmed Friday.
The case came back into the public eye after a recent report on The Needham Channel, which quoted police Chief Philip Droney saying, “The case has been reopened.” Droney could not be reached for comment Friday.
On Mother’s Day in 1986, a local man searching for recyclables found the body of the newborn baby girl in a trash barrel at Claxton Field, according to The Needham Channel’s report and Boston Globe articles from the time.
The baby, who weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces, was alive when she was born. She was wrapped in a shopping bag from a nearby supermarket, and her umbilical cord was still attached. An autopsy listed her cause of death as “unattended birth,” according to news reports.
The baby was posthumously named Fredericka Mary, and her death was investigated as a homicide. The case was never solved.
‘This baby girl has no one in her family to vouch for her. There’s no next of kin to keep her story alive in the media, in the general public.’
But forensic science has evolved over the past quarter century, and the district attorney’s office said authorities are revisiting the case, hoping new technology could shed light on the unanswered questions of Fredericka Mary’s life and death.
“At the time that this occurred, forensic science was in a completely different place,” David Traub, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said in an interview Friday. It is not unusual, he said, for police to periodically revisit old cases with new science.
Traub said it is also possible that someone knew something in 1986, but thought it was unimportant or was hesitant to come forward and might be willing to come forward now.
“We’ve had cases open up because someone picked up the phone and said, ‘You know what, I have a memory of doing something, and this is what I remember’ — and that memory across years is the last piece that is necessary for police to move forward,” Traub said.
Joe McGinty, a journalist with The Needham Channel, said he has been following the Fredericka Mary case since 2006 and that his inquiries prompted the renewed attention.
“This baby girl has no one in her family to vouch for her,” he said. “There’s no next of kin to keep her story alive in the media, in the general public. I think someone in the area has an idea of what happened to this baby girl.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Needham police at 781-455-7570.