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Police: Mom abandoned baby in Reading row home apartment

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Oct 11 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 12 2012 12:10:17 PM CDT

Reading police said a mother abandoned her baby girl in the hallway of a row home where there are apartments.

READING, Pa. -

A woman has been arrested for abandoning her baby in the hallway of an apartment house in Reading, police said.

A woman, who lives on the first floor of the house, discovered the crying baby Wednesday morning outside her apartment in the 700 block of Weiser Street.

"One of the residents heard the front door open, heard a female voice say, 'Bye-bye baby.' After she heard that, a few minutes later, she heard an infant crying," said Sgt. Matthew Schappell, Reading Police Dept. "She went outside of her apartment. She found the infant in its stroller."

The 2-and-1/2-month old baby girl was wrapped in a pink blanket, and there was a diaper bag filled with items to care for the child.

"It was learned that the child was abandoned by its mother. That mother was identified as Sophia Francis," said Schappell.

Police gave the baby to children and youth services and charged the mother with endangering the welfare of a child. This is a case where, police said, it appears the mother has some mental health issues.

When they found Francis, police said she told them she was going to kill the baby but didn't want to. Francis was committed to Reading Hospital after threatening to kill herself, police said.

Jay Kurtz, a criminal defense attorney, explained why the mother could still be facing charges, even if she may have mental health issues.

"Just being mentally ill doesn't necessarily mean that you're not going to be held liable," said Kurtz. "You need to be unable to appreciate the wrong that has been committed."

Kurtz is not connected with the case but said charges were likely brought because of where the baby was found.

"If somebody was not home there, or if somebody didn't even live there, how long would the child have been there until it was discovered?" said Kurtz, who added the safe haven law allows people to leave newborns under 28-days-old at hospitals.

Even though the baby in this case is older than that, had the mother left the baby with police, a hospital or children or youth services, it would be difficult to say she endangered the child, Kurtz said.