Editor's note: Though David Ressler said at the time of this article that he remembered Tara Bazzle being pregnant, another former coworker of hers told LNP | LancasterOnline recently said that she did not recall Brazzle being pregnant. Ressler, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, acknowledged he could have been mistaken, as Brazzle did have other children.
Also on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said while she couldn’t go into detail, “law enforcement is confident that the man is mistaken as to his timeframe… We would not be able to make any additional comments on whether the pregnancy was known at this time, citing the ongoing investigation and prosecution.”
David Ressler was the facilities manager at the YMCA when it was located on North Queen Street in Lancaster. It was Ressler who, on Sept. 24, 2007, found the body of the newborn who would become known as Baby Mary Anne.
“It never faded from my memory. It was a little traumatic finding a baby in the dumpster,” he said Wednesday.
He learned of the arrest of his former coworker in the baby’s death from his mother on Wednesday.
“That floored me when I found out who it was,” he said.
Never, he said, could he have imagined that Tara Indrakosit was the person authorities said is responsible.
Indrakosit — now known as Tara Brazzle — worked the front desk at the Y, Ressler said.
He knew she was pregnant — so did others. But as far as he knew, she had had the baby and everything was fine.
Ressler said he remembers that Brazzle went on maternity leave and then returned, continuing her job at the Y for some time, though he’s not sure how long (he left within a year for another job).
On Wednesday, Ressler recounted finding the baby in an interview with LNP | LancasterOnline.
It was trash day. Part of Ressler’s job was making sure trash was disposed of properly. Staff members were sometimes lazy: instead of opening the dumpster’s sliding doors and tossing bags in, they would leave trash bags next to the dumpster. The trash collector wouldn’t take bags left on the ground, so Ressler would throw them inside.
That’s when he said he saw the duffel bag inside the dumpster.
The bag appeared to be new. The dumpster also stank, so Ressler went to ask coworkers if anyone had thrown out food that spoiled. They told him no, so he decided to check the bag.
Inside was Baby Mary Anne’s body, which had been wrapped in a bloody towel and several plastic bags. The placenta and umbilical cord were also inside.
Ressler called police, who began asking him pointed questions. He said he felt like a criminal suspect, and remembered being given a lie detector test.
Police asked him if he had a girlfriend on the side and had gotten her pregnant.
“I know they were doing what they had to do. But ...it was a traumatic event … it was not fun,” he said.
“I’m just glad there’s some closure in it and there was a decent burial,” he said, referring to the funeral held Nov. 9, 2007, at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. More than 200 people attended, including Ressler.
Brazzle arrested in California
Brazzle was arrested Friday morning after getting off a plane at San Jose International Airport the day after Lancaster city Sgt. Randell Zook and city Detective Jessica Higgins interviewed her at her home in Valparaiso, Indiana.
She is charged with one count of homicide and is being held without bail pending extradition to Pennsylvania, which could take a month or two, according to Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.
Brazzle was not fleeing, according to her boyfriend of several years, Anthony Ortiz. Instead, he said, she traveled there to see him, as he was in California on business.
”We bought the tickets the week before. I was here, and she and our daughter were meeting me to spend the weekend. So she didn’t run,” he said.
Ortiz was reluctant to comment extensively. He has spoken to Tara by phone. She does not yet have a lawyer.
“I can tell you she did not attest to hurting the baby girl. Her statement to police was that the child died during the birth at home. Not sure the period in between her making a decision to place the baby Mary Anne in the dumpster, but obviously an act of panic and desperation as it was placed according to the original media report on top of the ‘heap,’” he wrote via Facebook Messenger.
According to Adams, however, the baby was born alive at the home Brazzle was living at on Paradise Lane in Strasburg Township. Brazzle had not obtained prenatal care, Adams said.
The baby was about 35 to 38 weeks old; normal gestation is 40 weeks.
Charging documents indicated Brazzle disposed of the body several days after giving birth.
Oritz said Brazzle is less worried about herself than what her three children are going through.
DNA, genealogy and dedicated police work
DNA and the public’s embrace of genealogical databases helped in making the arrest, Adams said. Despite many tips that led to 25 women being ruled out as the mother, Brazzle was never a suspect at the time and the case went cold, Adams said.
Lancaster police Sgt. Randell Zook spent hundreds of hours on the case since taking it over in 2016, Adams said. Zook declined comment at the news conference where Adams announced the charges, saying he preferred to stay behind the scenes.
In 2018, and with the help of Parabon NanoLabs, the baby’s DNA was uploaded into a public genetic genealogy database. Parabon, based in Reston, Virginia, helped solve the 1992 murder of Christy Mirack by comparing DNA from her killer to that of a relative uploaded to genealogy websites.
Parabon’s work eventually led to the discovery of a second cousin of the baby, Adams said. Zook continued to work with Parabon and “performed extensive research himself using a variety of genealogy resources, open source information and police databases to essentially build what would become a reverse family tree” linking the baby to Brazzle, Adams said.
Still, Adams said, genetic DNA analysis can only go so far. Zook used multiple other investigative techniques, though she said she was unable to elaborate on them.
She also said the arrest serves as a two-fold message in cold cases.
“One to victims, is to not give up hope, or families of victims who have passed on … don't give up hope because the police continue to look at these cases. And for suspects that have committed crimes like this, you know if there was DNA left at the scene, there's really nothing that they can do to change that event,” she said.
Adams said investigators have talked to the man believed to be the father. The investigation is also continuing and anyone with information is asked to call Zook at 717-735-3322.
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