By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD — The nearly 14-year mystery about who was the mother of a newborn baby found deceased and abandoned along a South Kitsap road has been solved by Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives.
According to a report from the sheriff’s office, it turns out the mother died last year before authorities learned of her identity.
On the afternoon of April 5, 2006, the lifeless body of an infant female was discovered in a plastic trash bag on the side at the 3300 block of Southeast Bielmeier Road, according to deputies. The bag was found by two young girls who thought someone had just thrown their trash along the side of the road. The location is across the street from Kitsap West Manufactured Home Park in an unincorporated part of the county.
After the discovery, an autopsy concluded the child had been born alive and at full term. The cause and manner of death were undetermined, according to the sheriff’s office report.
The unidentified baby was listed as “Baby Jane Doe,” but then-Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom informally named the child “Dawn,” who was believed to have been alive for about 24 hours and the early morning was the only portion of the day she saw, according to the sheriff’s office news release.
A year after the discovery, “Dawn” was buried in Sunset Lawn Cemetery in Port Orchard.
Online memorial entries were made by mourners, who wrote:
- “It is sad … the situation in which you lived your short life.”
- “This is such a dreadful thing to happen to this innocent baby. I am glad that she is at peace.”
- “I am so sickened by this senseless tragedy.”
- “I wish I had known your mother and the fact she didn’t want you. Even though we have 4 grown children, we would have welcomed you into our hearts and treated you like our others.”
The burial plot was donated by Rill Chapel, Pendleton-Gilchrist Funeral Home.
During the initial investigation, tips led to two women, one of which could possibly have been the biological mother of “Dawn,” according to officials. DNA samples, however, eliminated both women from suspicion.
The case was reopened in 2019 as part of efforts by the sheriff’s office to re-examine cold cases where prior investigations led to dead-ends.
“Detectives use advances in technology in current criminal investigations and to re-examine cold cases. Using this advancing technology, investigators were able to concentrate their efforts on a woman who lived in Montana,” Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jon VanGesen said.
Sheriff’s detectives previously obtained a DNA sample from a 32-year-old female who lived in Flathead County, Montana, according to the department. The woman died in 2019.
The Montana woman’s DNA was submitted to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory for comparison to samples taken from “Dawn.” The crime lab’s analysis report stated the DNA sample from the woman matched the sample from “Dawn,” according to the sheriff’s office report.
The possibility of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the U.S. population with a matching profile is 1 in 600 quadrillion, the report stated.
Since the biological mother is deceased and no criminal charges can be filed, the sheriff’s office said it is not releasing the name of the woman out of consideration for her family.