A man who said he discovered a newborn abandoned at a DeBary convenience store was arrested after detectives he was the one trying to find a place to leave the infant.
Ralph Garlick Jr., 53, told Volusia County deputy sheriffs he had found the baby girl crying and wrapped in newspaper about 2 a.m. near the front door of the DeBary food mart off U.S. Highway 17-92.
The mother of the child has been located and identified as Garlick’s girlfriend, said Gary Davidson, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Garlick gave law enforcement a false name when he said he found the baby, who still had her umbilical cord attached but appeared to have been tied off with a shoe string.
He said he didn’t know the child. Garlick used his dead brother’s name to identify himself.
But hours earlier, it was his girlfriend who had given birth to the child at an Orange City apartment complex.
Garlick, who is not the baby’s father, told investigators the mother didn’t want to keep the child.
Florida is one of about 34 states, that protects parents from any criminal prosecution if infants younger than 7 days old are relinquished at a designated “safe haven” like a hospital or fire station without harm or abuse.
Typically, they can do so anonymously and by doing so, terminate their parental rights, state law says.
Garlick said he had taken steps to find someone to take the baby but Davidson said they are not sure how far his efforts to locate a safe place went.
The DeBary volunteer fire station is located a little more than a half-mile from the food mart where Garlick left the child. A sheriff’s office sub-station is across the street from the fire station.
A newspaper delivery man called 911 after being flagged down by Garlick. The infant was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando in good condition.
Garlick was charged with knowingly giving false information to law enforcement during an investigation and resisting an officer without violence, both misdemeanors.
He is being taken to the Volusia County Jail on $5,000 bond, Davidson said.
Investigators are interviewing the baby’s mother at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford.
Once the infant is medically-cleared, the Florida Department of Children and Families will take custody of her.
DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner Proudfit said infants surrendered under the Safe Haven law go to approved adoptive parents through private adoption agencies.
It is unclear whether the infant’s mother will face any charges.