HIGHBRIDGE, The Bronx (PIX11) — Somebody left the body of a three-month-old baby in a trash-strewn wooded area next to one of the busiest highways in the tri-state region, according to police.
Now, they’re investigating what happened and why, as residents of the community where it happened are stunned and trying to make sense of this tragedy.
“A baby?” asked Nefetera Wright. “A baby. [She] didn’t deserve that at all.”
Wright lives in the building in the 1000 block of University Avenue here, where the infant had lived. Detectives, uniformed officers, and crime scene investigators spent all night on Sunday, and much of Monday, at the building, collecting evidence.
The building is listed online as a family shelter, and according to investigators, it was where the baby, Genevieve Comager, had been living.
Wright, a fellow resident at the shelter, said that she didn’t know the infant or her family. Still, Wright said, “It’s hard to even talk about it.”
Police had found the baby girl’s body in some woods between the Major Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River, just about four blocks from Yankee Stadium. Crime scene tape still marks where detectives recovered her body around 8:25 p.m. on Sunday.
Gil Velez is the super of the building next to the one where the shelter is located.
“Being that it’s a baby that doesn’t know anything, it’s defenseless,” he said. Many local residents call Velez “the mayor of the block.” He said that the sentiments he expressed about the situation are how the whole neighborhood feels.
“It’s a great loss if it’s even a human being,” he said, “but it hurts more that it’s a baby.”
The family of Baby Genevieve had apparently not been in the shelter that long. Very few people seemed to know them, but everybody in the area seemed struck by the tragedy.
“You don’t expect that to happen,” said Herminia Fermin, whose daughter lives nearby. “It’s really so sad,” she continued. “Usually you see a lot of things, like, going on [in the neighborhood], but not a baby. So I’m so sad to hear that.”
Among the other things seen here in recent years was something that quite a few residents mentioned.
“That’s not the first body that was on that same location,” one neighbor of Baby Genevieve, who declined to give his name, said.
He was talking about Nisaa Walcott, 35, whose body was left in a plastic storage container near the junction of the Major Deegan Expressway and University Avenue, about 500 feet from where the baby’s body was found on Sunday.
Walcott’s cousin, Khalid Barrow, was arrested in that case in February of last year.
In this new case, shelter residents said they also want to see closure.
The family shelter facility is run by the organization Volunteers of America-Greater New York.
“We have been assisting the NYPD in their investigation and will continue to do so until the police can fully understand the circumstances of this tragic situation,” it said through a spokesperson.
Similarly, the city’s Department of Homeless Services said, “This is an absolutely heart-breaking and shocking tragedy. We offer our deepest condolences to all who have been impacted and stand ready to support them every which way we can during this incredibly difficult time.”
According to the medical examiner’s office and the NYPD, the medical examiner is doing an autopsy and other tests as part of the investigation.