Ohio police are investigating after the body of a newborn was found inside a trash can in the restroom of a dorm hall at Hiram College on Friday morning, police say.
The dorm was put on lockdown after the baby was found in a garbage bag at 10:48 a.m. by a school maintenance worker, who contacted Hiram Village Police immediately, according to Police Chief Brian Gregory.
“We’re in a state of shock. We are mourning as a campus community. We’re a small community, a very kind and caring one, so this has taken us by surprise and we are doing everything we can to restore a sense of health and good welfare for our students and our faculty and staff,” the school’s president, Lori Varlotta told WEWS-TV. “We have a clinical psychologist on staff who’s meeting with students who want to do personal counseling. We have a very active chaplain who is providing ministerial services.”
The cause of death isn’t known at this time, and Hiram police have launched an investigation with assistance from the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
The Portage County Coroner, Dr. Dean DePerro, told Fox 8 that it’s unclear how long the newborn — who was either full-term or nearly full-term — had been in the bathroom. He says it’s unknown if the infant was delivered alive or stillborn.
“The death of a child is always difficult,” said Dr. DePerro told the outlet. “It never gets easier.”
DePerro says the mother was identified late Friday night, where she was reportedly taken to a local hospital for treatment. School officials had urged the mother to seek medical treatment earlier in the day, according to WEWS-TV.
“She should feel free to come forward to get medical attention and to come forward to anybody at the college for help for counseling — to make sure she gets to the appropriate places in a very timely way,” Varlotta told the station.
The baby’s remains were taken to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner for a full autopsy.
Shannon Ferraby lived next to Hiram College — a private liberal arts college — for over 10 years. She hopes other moms know there are resources out there if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed.
“I know that myself and other moms will make sure now that people know there are resources,” Ferraby told WOIO. “I’d be happy to talk to her, pray with her, see if she still needs help. “She probably is scared to tell anyone. That’s a terrible place to be in.”
Varlotta says the university has a “wide array” of mental health services while adding that the school does its best to provide resources towards students in need.
Hiram College is about 45 miles southeast of Cleveland.
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