Updated: Dead baby found at Rochester recycling facility, second this year

Nov 10, 2023

ROCHESTER — For the second time this year, a dead baby was found at the Zero Waste Solutions recycling facility in Rochester, according to a Rochester Police Department Facebook post and confirmed by the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office. 

A 911 call placed at approximately 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 alerted police that the body of a human baby was found among the materials set to be recycled. 

“The caller reported that infant remains were found within a trash collection that was trucked to the facility for disposal,” read a press release from the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office. 

According to the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner took jurisdiction of the case and will determine cause of death. Massachusetts State Police and the Rochester Police Department are working to determine the baby’s origin and how it may have gotten to the facility. 

In April, a newborn baby girl was found dead at the same Rochester recycling facility. Massachusetts State Police reported that the body found in April likely originated in Martha’s Vineyard and was shipped to the Rochester facility for disposal. 

Harvey Waste and Recycling, which uses the Rochester facility, serves Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard. 

In Massachusetts and across the country, the non-profit National Safe Haven Alliance helps parents who are unable or unwilling to care for their newborn children and according to the organization’s Director of Research and Development Noelle Ozimek, there are systems in place to safely and legally surrender a child. 

Each state has its own laws around surrendering a child. In Massachusetts, children seven days old or younger must be relinquished by a parent to an on-duty staff member at a hospital, law enforcement agency or fire department.

She noted that the organization does not have concrete data on rates of infant abandonment in the country or in Massachusetts because “we don’t have a way to know about infanticides which our legal system doesn’t know about [and] states are not required to report data on surrendered infants to a centralized database.”

According to Ozimek, short of speaking with an individual who utilizes a safe haven or abandons a baby, there is no way to know the circumstances that can lead to that decision. 

“We know some people assume that individuals who surrender just don't want the child or love the child, but that simply isn't the case,” she said. Ozimek added that she has worked on cases that range from a wealthy mother of two who “saw the custody of her toddlers be used as pawns in her divorce case ... [and didn’t] want another child to be in this position,” to a “woman experiencing homelessness and food insecurity [who wanted] to keep her baby, but [felt] she [didn’t] have the resources to care for him.”

Ozimek added that following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutional right to have an abortion, the National Safe Haven Alliance “saw a 300% spike in calls to our hotline ... however, we are not seeing a proportional increase in surrenders.”  

As of Tuesday, Nov. 14 the investigation into this case is still ongoing, according to the District Attorney’s Office, and no new information has been released.

Anyone who has any information regarding this case should contact Trooper David Wohler of the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit for Plymouth County at 508-894-2648.

The National Safe Haven Alliance can be reached via text or phone at 1-888-510-2229 to discuss “safe and legal alternatives to parenthood,” said Ozimek.