Fetus found dead in trash bin at Denver apartment complex

DENVER – Police in Denver are investigating after a fetus was found dead in a trash bin at an apartment complex Saturday night.

Police said Sunday they were conducting a death investigation in the 8000 block of East 11th Avenue in Denver. They have yet to call it a homicide. The cause of death is not known at this time.

Denver Medical Examiner's Office investigator Harris Neil says the coroner's office is calling the child a fetus because it's unclear whether it was a stillbirth or was born alive and died.

Neil says the coroner's office is waiting for the final autopsy results before making a final decision, which could take between four and six weeks.

Although it's not known how the fetus died, Linda Prudhomme, executive director of Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns, wants to remind parents of Colorado’s Safe Haven Law.

“I don’t know what the mother’s circumstances are, but we want people to know that if a mother has been hiding her pregnancy, the Safe Haven law can allow her to keep her to baby safe, while also protecting her secret. People need to talk about the law. The law can only be effective if that next mother in crisis knows about this safe option,” Prudhomme stated.

The law, enacted in 2000, allows a parent to hand over a newborn to an employee at a fire station or hospital, with no questions asked.

If it is found to be a fetus that was thrown in the trash, and not a newborn. Under Colorado law, the mother or person who did this can't be charged with murder. 

State lawmakers have tried to make the death of a fetus a homicide, but each time it's failed. Most recently, after Michelle Wilkins had her baby girl cut out of her in Longmont in 2015.

The woman who did it, Dynel Lane, did go to prison, but only for charges related to the attack itself. 

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