How Police Learned Woman in Coma Had Given Birth: Baby Was Fighting for Life, Mom Was 'Helpless'
For the first time since a patient in a vegetative state for more than a decade at an Arizona-based nursing facility gave birth on Dec. 29, the Phoenix Police Department has revealed new details about what led to a sexual assault investigation.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Sgt. Tommy Thompson disclosed how authorities discovered that a 29-year-old Native American woman gave birth to a child at Hacienda HealthCare.
On the same day that the baby boy was born, officers responded to a call that an infant had “coded” and was in “distress” with troubles breathing. “The baby was born having issues, that was the nature of the call, that’s what started this on the 29th of December,” Thompson told reporters of how their investigation began.
The mother, who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade after a near-drowning, was “unable to move [and] unable to communicate, in other words, she was helpless and incapacitated,” according to Thompson.
“As far as I know it was a natural birth,” he said.
When asked if the mother had a full-term pregnancy, Thompson said “[she] was quite a ways along.”
Both the baby, who is now 11 days old, and his mother are currently recovering at a local hospital.
“She was not in a position to give consent,” Thompson said of the mother, calling her a “helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”
On Tuesday, the woman’s family attorney, John Micheaels, said in a statement to PEOPLE, “The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”
It is not yet known exactly where the baby is being raised or who he is being raised by.
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Michealels also revealed the patient’s relatives are “outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare,” adding, “The family is well aware of the intense news and public interest in their daughter’s case, but at this time is not emotionally ready to make a public statement.”
Police are seeking DNA samples from all male staffers at the facility in a push to identify the father of the baby boy, according to a Tuesday statement from Hacienda Healthcare obtained by PEOPLE.
The statement said the company welcomed the move to investigate what it called “this deeply disturbing but unprecedented situation.” In the announcement, the company confirmed that Phoenix police had served a search warrant “to obtain DNA from male Hacienda HealthCare staffers.”
“We had consulted attorneys to determine whether it would be legal for our company to compel our employees to undergo DNA testing conducted through Hacienda or for Hacienda to conduct voluntary genetic testing of staffers,” the statement said. “We were told it would be a violation of federal law in either instance.”
Thompson revealed that police have obtained buccal swabs to collect DNA samples. “We’re looking first to find out who is responsible for this,” he said, adding that they are collecting swabs from a “very wide scope.”
Thompson also confirmed that authorities and investigators are asking the public to help identify a suspect in the sexual assault case.
Anyone with information, call 602-534-2121. Or to remain anonymous, call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.