Baby in shopping bag was smothered, report says

An NYPD officer stands in front of a An NYPD officer stands in front of a Victoria's Secret on 34th Street where earlier in the day a teenager was found to have a fetus in a bag inside of the store in Manhattan. (Oct. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Police believe the baby whose body was found in a shopping bag at a Victoria's Secret store in Manhattan was born alive and smothered to death, The Associated Press reported Friday.

But the city medical examiners office Friday only listed the baby's autopsy results as "pending" further tests. A police spokesman reiterated the medical examiner's statement.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said the results of the autopsy were awaiting the results of toxicology and tissue tests. The office would not say if the baby had lived for any period of time or what may have killed it.

The remains were found Thursday by security guards at the women's lingerie store at Herald Square. The guards had stopped two 17-year-old women on suspicion of shoplifting. While inspecting the bags of the women the guards noticed a strong odor and found the baby inside the bag of Tiana Rodriguez of Brooklyn, police said.

Rodriguez, who police believe gave birth to the baby, was taken to Bellevue Hospital for observation while her friend Francis Estevez of Queens was questioned by police at the Midtown South Precinct.

Both women were charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to the NYPD and were awaiting arraignment late Friday on those charges.

But the main investigation is focused, officials said, on whether the tiny body is evidence of a homicide, something that the autopsy results would help determine. As of late Friday, no homicide charges had been filed against the women.

In Rodriguez's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, her neighbors were stunned by the developments.
Ramon Acosta, 23, who lives upstairs from Rodriguez in the Marcy Houses, said, "The whole building is surprised."

Rodriguez is the youngest of three sisters, said Acosta, who has known her family since he and his family moved into the building in 1994.

Acosta said Rodriguez, a mother of a 2-year-old boy, has been living quietly with her mother. "She's a nice girl. She doesn't hang out. She's always with her family and her son. The baby's father visits them also. Everybody is surprised," said Acosta.

With Maria Alvarez and the AP

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