Hobbs police detail infant's rescue from Dumpster, teen mom's arrest

Adam D. Young
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

A Hobbs teen faces first-degree felony charges of attempted murder and child abuse after officials say she wrapped her newborn baby in trash bags and abandoned it in a store's Dumpster Friday in that New Mexico city.

Alexis Avila, 18, was arrested Saturday after Hobbs police say they tracked her down using surveillance video that showed her throwing the newborn in a Dumpster behind Rig Outfitters and Home Store. She was released on bond later Saturday pending two felony charges, and an arraignment will be scheduled in Lea County District Court.

Speaking during a news conference Monday afternoon, Hobbs Police Interim Chief August Fons thanked three people who admitted they were searching for valuables in the Dumpster when they discovered the infant. 

"Their collective, quick response to this emergency, including notification of 911, was absolutely pivotal in saving this baby's life," he said. 

Hobbs police

Discovered by chance

Police responded at about 7:45 p.m. Friday to the 1400 block of North Thorp Street in reference to a newborn child being located in a Dumpster.

Upon arrival, they found two men and one woman, who was holding the baby, in a pickup truck behind a shopping strip.

"The baby was wrapped in a bath towel and was dirty and wet and had dried blood on him with the umbilical cord still attached," Fons said. "The woman in the group held the baby, trying to keep him warm, while one of the men in the group called 911."

The group told police they had been searching through the trash container when they heard a strange noise from inside.

"They thought it may have been a dog or a kitten, so they removed a black trash bag," Fons said. "They opened it and they saw that it was a human baby."

Upon arrival, officers rendered aid to the infant, and the baby was taken to Covenant Health Hobbs hospital. The child was subsequently transported to a Covenant hospital in Lubbock for further pediatric treatment.

Tracking down details

Investigators were able to retrieve surveillance video and later located a suspect vehicle — a white Volkswagen Jetta. The video showed a woman throwing what appeared to be a bag into the container at about 2 p.m., Fons said, meaning the baby was left abandoned for about six hours.

Police traced the Jetta to the home of Avila's parents, who were home Saturday when officers arrived. Avila's parents said their daughter was sleeping and, once told of the situation, said she would be willing to voluntarily speak to investigators at the police station, Fons said.

Avila was interviewed and confessed to giving birth to the child at another location before placing the baby in the Dumpster, he said.

She told police she didn't realize she was pregnant until Thursday, Jan. 6, when she sought medical treatment for stomach pains and possible constipation. 

"She explained that on Friday, Jan. 7, she was experiencing stomach pain and unexpectedly gave birth," Fons said. "She further explained that she panicked, did not know what to do or who to call."

Fons said the teen cut the baby's umbilical cord and placed the infant in a trash bag with trash in it, then put that bag in a larger black trash bag. Then she drove around before throwing the bag in a green Dumpster in an alley behind the shopping center.

Fons said Avila was asked what she thought could happen to the baby by placing it inside trash bags and leaving him in a Dumpster. 

"Alexis remained silent and could not answer," he said.

Avila's parents denied knowing their daughter was pregnant, saying they were only aware that she'd been having stomach problems. 

Avila told police she believed the child's father was a previous boyfriend who she'd broken up with in August. Police did not identify that teen because he's a juvenile and they were still working to visit with him as of Monday.

Avila was charged with Attempt to Commit a Felony To Wit: Murder, a 1st degree felony, and Child Abuse, a 1st degree felony.

The newborn child was in stable condition as of Monday and is in the custody of New Mexico state Children Youth & Families Department.

Fons used Monday's news conference as an opportunity to remind the community that  the Hobbs police and fire stations are safe haven sites, meaning an infant can be surrendered in safe condition at either of those facilities within 90 days of birth without prosecution, as per state law.