Investigators are continuing to search for answers about the recent discovery of the body of a stillborn girl along Interstate 82.
A road cleanup crew working for the Washington Department of Ecology found her remains in a garbage bag about 10 a.m. March 6 near the I-182 and I-82 interchange in south Richland.
Benton County Coroner Bill Leach confirmed an autopsy was conducted and it was determined the girl was about 30-weeks developed. Full gestation is at 40 weeks.
Benton County sheriff's Lt. Mike Clark said detectives are still trying to figure out how the body ended up by the side of highway.
He said that trying to identify her mother is complicated.
When identifying adult who has died, police and coroners have a variety of pieces of information that they can draw from, such as dental records, fingerprints and missing person reports.
In this case, Clark said there is other evidence that was found at the scene that could help.
"They are still following leads," he said. "There are a million different things that they can use."
That could include a DNA sample that might connect them to a parent. It's also unclear if a law was broken.
Anyone with possible information about the baby is asked to call Detective CJ Conner at 509-735-6555, Ext. 7203, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workers who discovered the baby were offered counseling after talking to the detectives.
Clark said this is the first time in his 17 years with the Benton County Sheriff's Office that he's seen a case like this.
Even finding abandoned children is fairly rare, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance, a nonprofit supporting laws that give parents alternatives to prevent harm to babies.
The organization reported 22 babies died in the U.S. in 2021 after they were placed in dumpsters, found in backpacks or discarded in other dangerous places.
During the same period, more than 3.6 million babies were born, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Washington state has safe haven laws that allow parents to drop off an infant to a hospital.