Mother Threw Newborn 7 Floors to Her Death in Bronx, Authorities Say

Mother Threw Newborn 7 Floors to Her Death in Bronx, Authorities Say

Jennifer Berry, who has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, in police custody in New York, Sept. 29, 2015. (Edwin J. Torres/The New York Times)

New York: The newborn girl found in an alleyway outside an apartment building in the Bronx had been thrown from a seventh-floor window by her mother, who was charged with murder on Tuesday, the authorities said.

The girl, who was found on Monday unconscious and unresponsive with her umbilical cord still attached, died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained in the fall, the New York City chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, said in a statement on Tuesday. The death was ruled a homicide, meaning that the infant was alive when she was thrown from the window.

The police said the mother, identified as Jennifer Berry, 33, of Yonkers, had been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. She had been questioned by investigators since Monday.

Berry, a police official said, apparently hid the final stage of her pregnancy from relatives and friends, including, it appears, the child's father, from whose apartment the baby was thrown. She told some of them that she had miscarried weeks ago.

On Monday, she denied giving birth to the child before she ultimately relented and admitted she had delivered the baby, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose details of the investigation.

A spokesman for the city's Administration for Children's Services said on Tuesday that the agency was investigating the matter. Officials of the agency were not allowed to discuss whether the family had any previously reported issues.
Shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Monday, the authorities were called to the apartment building, at 130 W. 183rd St., after the building superintendent's wife found the baby while cleaning up the alleyway, the police said. The baby was declared dead at the scene, officials said.

On the winding street in the tree-lined University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, many neighbors said the episode remained fresh in their minds. They were struggling with what they saw and heard outside the white-brick apartment building on Monday. They also questioned why it happened.

After the police arrived on Monday, Janiqua Torres, 33, went into the building's stairwell, she said, where she could look into the area where the baby was found.

"I saw the blood," said Torres, who has been staying with her husband's family in the building. "It was a mess."

"When I heard the police say, 'Baby,'" she added, "that's what crushed me."

Her husband, Kenneth Bolton, 29, said he saw Berry being led out of the building by emergency workers and flanked by detectives. She looked "like she was lost," Bolton said, adding, "You know how some people might have that look in their face where they don't know where they're at?"

Other mothers in the building said they were deeply shaken.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,'" said Pauline Beaumont, 49.

Beaumont said she wished the mother had simply handed the baby over to someone else. "I was like why couldn't you just bring it down here and give it to us," she said.

Jeffrey Quarles, 49, said he thought the situation was "heart-wrenching" and "incomprehensible."

"It takes your breath away any time some situation like this occurs," Quarles said, "where you can figure out something else could have been done."

Tiffany Martinez, who lives across the street, said she was a friend of the father's. She said she was stunned by the allegations.

"You literally must have hit the lowest of the low for you to do that," Martinez said. "There's no explanation for that. It's a newborn."

Peter DeLuca, the owner of two funeral homes in Manhattan, said he was inquiring with officials about arrangements for the girl. DeLuca, whose 13-month-old son died in 1987, said he wanted to make sure that "the baby gets buried in a proper grave."

"It's just inconceivable that this could happen to a newborn baby," he said. "It's a sad ending to a child who never had a beginning."

By nightfall, residents had set up a small memorial in the lobby of the apartment building.

The cardboard box held a candle, flowers and a small baby's milk bottle.

Red cursive script on the side read:

"Came into this life unknown not knowing what would happen to me, I didn't have a chance. May her soul rest in peace with God."
© 2015, The New York Times News Service
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