KEARNS, Utah — A newborn girl was fighting for her life a day after Utah police say her mother dumped her in a neighbor’s trash can, an act the woman’s parents said Wednesday that she didn’t fully comprehend.
The 2-day-old girl was on a ventilator and in critical condition in a hospital, Unified Police Detective Jared Richardson said. The girl’s mother, 23-year-old Alicia Marie Englert, was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of attempted murder.
Her father, Robert Englert, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he’s trying to make sure everyone is safe but declined to comment further. Earlier in the day, he told Utah media outlets that his daughter had a learning disability and didn’t understand her actions.
“She doesn’t even realize that it’s a crime and it’s bad,” Englert told The Salt Lake Tribune. He said he didn’t know who the baby’s father was.
The woman’s mother, Tammy Englert, told the Deseret News that her daughter didn’t understand what had happened.
“We tried to explain it to her, and she didn’t realize it was that bad what she had done,” Tammy Englert said.
She said her daughter had gained weight recently, but she had no idea Alicia Englert was pregnant.
The young woman told authorities that she hid the pregnancy from her parents and hoped the newborn girl would die in the trash and solve her problems, according to a probable cause statement. The mother told police the baby had been in the trash for about an hour before she was found. The baby had not received any medical care or food, police said.
Jail records show Englert was still in the Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday. It was unclear if she had an attorney.
A neighbor in the Salt Lake City suburb of Kearns discovered the baby Tuesday morning when she mistook her cries for a kitten meowing in the trash bin, police said. The baby girl was airlifted to a hospital.
Police have learned where Englert gave birth to the girl but are not releasing the location yet, citing the ongoing investigation, Richardson said Wednesday.
He had no information about the child’s father.
Utah allows mothers to drop off newborns at hospitals without consequences. A handful of infants are given up under the safe haven law every year, said Al Romeo with the Utah Department of Health.
To learn more about how states are trying to protect unwanted newborns and their mothers, read Baby abandoned at dumpster shows need for Newborn Safe Haven laws.