Metro

Newborn’s body is found in garbage bag in Worcester

WORCESTER — Authorities Monday found the body of a newborn inside a garbage bag in a wooded area in Worcester and have charged two people who live nearby with concealing the baby’s death.

Around 8:45 a.m., a man went to the police station to report “an unusual odor coming from a bag at 375 Lake Ave.,” police said in a statement. The man was worried about what was inside, police said.

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Officers found the bag in a wooded area behind 384 Lake Ave. Inside the bag was “a newborn baby that had passed away,” police said.

While at the scene, police spotted Edwin Santiago, 31, and Jennifer Rheaume, 36, walking along nearby railroad tracks, police said. Santiago lives at 384 Lake Ave., and Rheaume at 375 Lake Ave., police said.

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They were charged with removal of a human body and concealment of the death of a child, according to police.

Mark Healy, 48, whose family owns the house Rheaume was living in, said he let her stay in the basement.

“I called it in to the police,” he said. “She was pregnant and when I found out she wasn’t, I didn’t want to be implicated.”

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A neighbor on the busy residential street, Donald Lamontagne, 87, said he has overheard shouting matches at both homes.

“Something just isn’t right there,” he said.

Police said the baby’s cause of death is unknown, pending autopsy results.

“It is also unknown whether the baby was alive at the time of delivery,” the statement said.

At an evening news conference, Worcester police Sergeant Sean Murtha said investigators will not know the gender of the baby until autopsy results come back.

Asked if the infant may have been stillborn, or whether the remains were that of a fetus, Murtha said “we’re calling it a newborn baby.”

Murtha said investigators could not immediately confirm whether Rheaume and Santiago were the infant’s parents.

Asked about their relationship, Murtha said only that “they know each other.”

It was not clear when the body was first placed in the woods. Police said they determined that it had been moved at some point from Rheaume’s residence to Santiago’s.

Around 9:40 p.m., police were searching the woods with flashlights, and both suspects’ houses were sealed off with police tape.

Santiago and Rheaume will be arraigned Tuesday.

Globe correspondents Maddie Kilgannon and Reena Karasin contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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