Coroner: No obvious trauma in death of lost California baby

AP News
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Posted: Feb 26, 2015 8:32 PM
Coroner: No obvious trauma in death of lost California baby

KNIGHTS LANDING, Calif. (AP) — An autopsy found no obvious trauma in the death of a 20-day-old boy whose body was found in a swampy region near the Sacramento River in Northern California, authorities said Thursday.

Justice Rees appeared to have been in good health, with no apparent physical injuries or signs of abuse, Yolo County sheriff's Capt. Larry Cecchettini said in a news release.

He had minor scratches that could have come from the brushy area where he was found near the rural town of Knights Landing, about 30 miles west of Sacramento. Authorities have said the child was wearing clothes when he was found.

The autopsy conducted Thursday did not rule out drowning or hypothermia. Additional tests are planned but could take months.

The infant and his mother, Samantha Green, of Woodland, were reported missing Monday after they failed to show up for a family event Saturday.

She was found alive and disoriented Tuesday night, and the baby's body was discovered Wednesday morning after an all-night search.

Cecchettini said the time of the baby's death has not been determined but it most likely occurred before the search began.

His mother was cooperative, but she was too upset and disoriented to provide details about where she and the baby had been, authorities said previously. The infant was found between where Green turned up along a river levee and where her car was found at the opposite end of the wetlands known as the River Cut Slough.

Cecchettini said the sheriff's office would not release any further information on the ongoing investigation.

The child's paternal grandmother, Patty Rees, of Woodland, told The Sacramento Bee that Green, who turned 23 on Wednesday, was devoted to her newborn.

"She was so sweet with Justice. There were some hiccups, but it was just all new-mom stuff, like trying to figure out how to make day and night work," she told the newspaper.

Green had lived in Rees' home for the past year along with her son, Frank Rees, who is Justice's father, and his four children from a previous relationship.

Family members have said they believe Green was abducted. However, Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto told the Bee that investigators believe Green was alone with her infant when she drove to the area, and they have found no evidence of a kidnapping. She didn't appear to know why she was in the wetlands area, he said.