Nearly four years after an abandoned newborn girl was found alive in a plastic bag left in a wooded area of northern Georgia, authorities have identified and arrested the child’s mother.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Karima Jiwani, 40, Thursday on charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, aggravated assault and reckless abandonment.
The sheriff’s office identified the child’s father about 10 months ago using advanced DNA investigative practices and familial DNA, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman said during a news conference Friday.
Within the past week, DNA helped the sheriff’s office identify Jiwani as the mother of the child, dubbed “Baby India,” Freeman said.
The baby was believed to be just hours old when a family in Cumming, Georgia, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, heard what they thought were animal noises coming from a wooded area on June 6, 2019.
Body camera footage from responding law enforcement officers showed the crying child wrapped in a yellow plastic bag with her umbilical cord still attached.
Baby India’s birth likely took place inside a vehicle, according to Freeman.
Additional evidence revealed that Jiwani drove for a “significant period of time” after the birth with the child in the car “until she decided to tie the baby in a plastic bag and throw it into the woods to die,” Freeman said.
CNN could not determine whether Jiwani has an attorney.
Freeman said evidence collected during the investigation led authorities to believe Jiwani was likely alone when the child was abandoned.
Jiwani, who lived in southeast Forsyth County, has cooperated with detectives throughout the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities said they could not discuss motives or details of what Jiwani told investigators as the case is pending prosecution.
“Little can explain how this happened, and no motive can justify that decision,” Freeman said. “Jiwani made no effort to leave this child, not only under ‘Safe (Haven) Law,’ but in any place this child could be found.”
Under Georgia’s Safe Place for Newborns Act, also known as the “Safe Haven Law,” mothers cannot be charged criminally if they leave their baby with medical facility volunteers or staff, or at a fire or police station, according to the Georgia Department of Human Services.
The Georgia law applies to children 30 days old or younger.
The sheriff’s office investigation discovered Jiwani had a history of “hidden and concealed pregnancies and surprise births,” Freeman said, adding digital evidence indicated she had known of this particular pregnancy for a period of time and “went to extremes to conceal” it.
“There is no evidence, at this point, that the father was aware of either the pregnancy or the abandonment of (the) baby,” the sheriff added.
Freeman did not discuss details of Baby India’s current status Friday, but said she was “happy, healthy and in a safe place.”