By Tuan Nguyen and Nicole Bode
MANHATTAN — Police discovered the body of a fetus abandoned inside a garbage can in a Washington Heights alley Tuesday evening, they said.
The child, whose age and race were not immediately known, was found unconscious and unresponsive when police were called to the alley of 608 W. 191 St. at 6:15 p.m. by a 911 caller who said there was a child there.
Sources said they were investigating whether the fetus was dead when it was born.
A spokeswoman with the medical examiner said a building superintendent discovered the fetus in the alley. The medical examiner was working to determine the cause of death Wednesday.
The super's son, who was with his father when they found the fetus, said the body was wrapped in multiple plastic bags and placed inside a box buried underneath other bags of trash in the bin. He added that they saw the fetus's fingers.
“This is a total shock," said Gregory Santana, 20. "We’ve been living here for 15 years, and nothing like this has ever happened before."
Santana said he knows of two or three pregnant women living in the building, noting that the alley is only accessible from the building and not the street.
The superintendent, Rafael Santana, 53, said he saw a pregnant former tenant of the building visit the address Tuesday and drop something into the trash can. He added that one of the woman's family members also dropped something into the bin shortly after, and that he saw woman at the building again early Wednesday morning following the grisly discovery.
He explained that police also showed him pictures of the former resident to ask if he recognized her.
Residents of the building explained that police asked tenants if they knew of any pregnant women in the area.
"It's sad," said a resident of 608 W. 191st St., who asked not to be identified. "What can I say now?"