GREENSBORO, N.C. — Abandoning a baby is a crime.
The Greensboro Police Department wanted to know who left a baby underneath an apartment complex stairwell on the morning of Nov. 12, 1999.
Detective Ruth Hines, then Ruth Woodard, was the investigator also working to answer that question, but says the department had very little to work with.
“Somebody needed to come forward in order for us to have something additional to go on,” she said.
Investigators canvassed the neighborhood and checked local hospitals to see if someone showed up with signs that she may have given birth.
“We did use the media to get the word out and hoped that perhaps somebody would remember something or have seen something or thought something didn’t look quite right. I believe we’ve had a few calls, but nothing panned out,” Hines said.
The baby was found just outside of Tonie McNair’s door.
McNair was leaving for her 7 a.m. shift at Wesley Long Hospital that morning.
She worked in the emergency room.
“I walked out that morning, it was so cold. I stepped out and I thought I heard a kitten and I looked over and I saw it was a baby,” she said.
McNair ran back into the house yelling for her sons Willie and Ricky to call 911.
Willie made the call.
Later, some unexpected visitors arrived at his job to let him know the baby was fine, but that they also had some questions.
“Social services, the police. I guess they were questioning about did we know anybody who was pregnant, trying to find out was anybody trying to leave the baby around there,” Willie Baldwin said.
Ricky, a student at Northeast Middle School at the time, was also questioned.
“Well, as an investigator, you try to think of all the possibilities of what could have happened. Obviously, I was suspicious of the fact that the baby was left, at this particular household,” Hines said.
The family believes people in the neighborhood may have had similar suspicions.
“At the time, I had a child that was due,” Baldwin said.
His child was due in May.
Eventually investigators would determine neither Willie nor Ricky had anything to do with the criminal aspect of this case.
What was the connection?
Why did someone leave the baby outside their door?
“The only thing I thought about was the person had probably been watching us and knew my mom was a nurse, they probably said well she’s a nurse, she’d know what to do with the baby,” Baldwin said.
McNair believes there’s more to it than that.
“She could have been placed in a dumpster because the dumpster was right there, right outside where we stayed at, but I think God knew. God had a plan.”
This is part of our series on Baby Doe.
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The first episode will be available June 13.