PORT JERVIS, New York (WABC) -- A 22-year-old woman is under arrest after a newborn baby was found dead along a walking path in a wooded area in Orange County, New York, last year, authorities announced Wednesday.
Nicole Layman, of Port Jervis, is charged with second-degree murder after she allegedly gave birth to a daughter and abandoned her by a vacant lot on November 12, 2019.
The girl's body was discovered alongside Hornbeck Avenue and Brooklyn Street in Port Jervis around 10:30 p.m.
"Based upon the findings of our investigation, that the child had been born alive, and that Layman abandoned her in the freezing cold temperatures in a vacant lot adjacent to Hornbeck Avenue where the baby subsequently died of exposure," Port Jervis City Police Chief William Worden said.
Authorities believe the baby had just been born because the umbilical cord was still attached.
Police identified Layman as the baby's mother on the very same night as the grim discovery, but investigators waited 12 weeks for forensic results and two medical examiner's reports before they made an arrest.
"This case was done as expeditiously as it could have been done," Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said. It was done professional by the police department. It was done by the medical examiner's office."
A makeshift memorial with candles, lanterns and stuffed animals marks the spot where the newborn was found.
"It knocked the wind out of you," Port Jervis resident Lorraine Marquez said. "Knocked the wind out of you. It was just, it was awful."
The DA and police chief would not say why Layman allegedly chose to abandon her daughter, born prematurely at approximately 30 weeks. But for this city of about 10,000 people, the reality of what happened to an innocent newborn is difficult to swallow.
"That person could have knocked on anybody's door around here and given that baby up," Marquez said.
Layman faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted of the top charge.