Suffolk police are trying to determine how the body of an infant ended up in a bale of compressed garbage at a waste transfer station in Yaphank Monday.
So far detectives have been unable to determine the race, gender or age of the infant - or whether the baby was stillborn. It was not clear if the child was a newborn.
Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said he hoped the medical examiner Tuesday would provide some information about the infant.
"Was the child born alive? Did the child take a breath?" he said. "At the moment there are more questions than answers."
The laborer noticed the arms or hands of a baby protruding from a 5,000-pound bale of garbage that had been loaded onto a flatbed truck bound for a landfill, Nolan said.
The company immediately called police and stopped all truck traffic in and out of the facility until shortly after noon, he said.
"We don't have any idea where this came from," Nolan said.
The center handles waste from across Suffolk and processes material delivered by its own trucks and the trucks of other companies. Workers at the facility sort trash and remove recyclables before compressing garbage into 5,000-pound cubes, or bales.
"The real sad part is that had [the worker] not seen it, the truck would have been covered and sent to the landfill," Nolan said. "To know that someone would treat a child this way is appalling."
Meanwhile, police said investigators are trying to determine whether the trash in which the body was found was residential or commercial - and its point of origin.
The infant's body was difficult to see because it was encased in frozen trash, some of which may be material that was discarded with the child, Fitzpatrick said.
Detectives urged anyone with information about the case to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.
With John Valenti