10:30 a.m. update: Austin police said a newborn left in a Northeast Austin dumpster last month “had a guardian angel” when a man heard the baby cries and got help.
The baby has since been treated and released in good condition from Dell Children’s Medical Center, police said in a briefing about the case Wednesday.
The child’s mother, 27-year-old Althea Johnson, faces a felony charge of abandoning a child. Her infant has been placed with other family members.
Austin police Detective Lee Knouse said a man had been “dumpster diving” just before 7 a.m. on Oct. 25 when noises caught his attention.
“The witness in this case was of the utmost importance. I really feel like the baby kind of had a guardian angel,” Knouse said.
He said the incident showed how important witnesses are in intervening in child abuse cases. It’s often goes to a parent, teacher or a pastor to speak out when abuse is occurring, Knouse said.
“By happenstance that gentleman wasn’t looking for a baby in the dumpster, he didn’t hear a cry before he went into that dumpster,” Knouse said.
Earlier: Austin police plan to discuss the arrest of 27-year-old Althea Johnson, whose infant daughter was found in a dumpster at an apartment complex in Northeast Austin on Oct. 25.
Johnson was booked into the Travis County Jail at 8:34 a.m. Tuesday on a second-degree felony charge of abandoning a child, according to court records.
First responders found Johnson’s newborn in a dumpster at an apartment complex in the 9600 block of Middle Fiskville Road around 7 a.m. as temperatures dropped to 51 degrees in the area.
Police said if they hadn’t received a 911 call from a passerby who spotted the child, they may have arrived too late to save her.
A Child Protective Services spokeswoman said the child was taken to an area hospital for treatment, but was later released and returned to her family.