Baby Mary Anne: Who is she?

This is Baby Mary Anne's grave in St. Anthony's cemetery off Ranck Avenue in Lancaster. (Richard Hertzler/New Era)

Editor's note: Tara Brazzle, 44, was charged with the death of Baby Mary Anne, according to Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams. Brazzle is believed to be the mother of Mary Anne, Adams announced Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Baby Mary Anne's grave is well-tended, covered with silk pink roses and teddy bears, in the St. Anthony's Cemetery off Ranck Avenue in Lancaster Township.

But it was strangers, not family members, who named this newborn child and buried her, after her body was found in a Dumpster in the city.

Who she is and where she came from remains a mystery.

City police still are searching for the baby's mother, six months after the infant was found in a tote bag left in a trash bin in the 500 block of North Market Street, behind the Lancaster YMCA.

City Police Lt. Stephen Skiles has seen a lot of tragedy in his 22 years as a police officer. But this case is tough for the investigator, who has three children of his own.

"To me, as a father, I can't imagine someone would discard a child and not have some kind of second thoughts about it," he said.

Police discovered the baby's body Monday, Sept. 24, after a passerby noticed an odor coming from the Dumpster. The baby's body could have been in the trash for up to six days and was so decomposed authorities initially could not tell its sex, which was determined by an autopsy, or race.

Skiles still is waiting for further test results that may tell him the baby girl's race and her age. Test results also still are pending on whether the baby was born alive or was stillborn.

In the meantime, Skiles has been running down leads he has gotten about the case.

In the search for the child's mother, he has ruled out 25 women - some from as far away as York - he learned were pregnant around the time the baby was found. Their medical records were examined or DNA samples compared with those of the baby.

Skiles also tried to track down the type of tote bag that contained the baby's body. It was a giveaway from a King of Prussia nonprofit organization, Pennsylvania Land Title Association, at its 2005 convention in Bermuda.

However, he learned that 250 of the bags were made. Of those, about half were given to people in York, Chester and Lancaster counties.

Extra bags were given to Goodwill and other agencies. It was impossible to track who ended up with the bags.

In all, Skiles said city police have interviewed about 125 people about the case.

He believes more than one person was involved in the incident and that family and friends could have known about it.

The baby's mother may have come from anywhere, but Skiles said, "My gut feeling is that it's someone in Lancaster County because of where the Dumpster is."

Though she could face charges ranging from homicide to abuse of a corpse, Skiles is hoping the mother, or someone who knows her, will decide to come forward.

"I think the mother needs some closure and hope she comes in to talk to us, so we can find out what was going on in her life that would make her do this type of thing," he said.

"It's unspeakable to a lot of people but tragic things happen to people and everyone has a reason for what they do."

After the baby's body was discovered, others in the community stepped forward to care for her.

Dolores Yecker, a former nun and member of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on East Orange Street, named the baby, bought her a blanket and doll, and made her funeral arrangements.

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