The case is vexing.
Three years have passed since the caretaker of Birch Hill Free Church of Scotland in Mount Albion discovered the lifeless body of an infant on a bench that overlooks a small cemetery.
The baby was wrapped in a towel emblazoned with an embroidered green frog – an image police released early in the investigation in hopes of garnering the public’s assistance in determining both how and why the dead newborn was secretly deposited on the church grounds.
Identifying the parents of the baby, who was quickly named Baby Albion by police as a gesture of respect, was clearly a priority from the start.
Police implored the public to consider women they knew to have been pregnant, were no longer, but did not have a baby.
Many tips came in, says RCMP Const. Shannon Hodder, the lead investigator in the case.
Of those tips, a couple of dozen were from people identifying one woman or another who was believed to have possibly been pregnant leading up to the time of the chilling discovery on April 12, 2015, but was no longer so after the dead infant was found.
None of those leads, or any of the others, panned out.
So, the investigation continues – much, much longer than expected.
Hodder says everyone in the major crime unit is surprised no one has come forward yet with information leading police to solve the case.
“It is somewhat frustrating but we are still very hopeful that at the end of the day, we will solve this matter,’’ he says.
One year ago, police made public that the baby was a full-term boy in hopes of uncovering more information.
Hodder has nothing new to offer at this time.
There is, of course, some information being withheld as is the case in these types of investigations, notes the lead investigator.
He says the case is receiving the same thorough approach that would be afforded a homicide investigation.
“I can’t say,’’ he is quick to add, “that there are any factors right now that would lead us to believe it was homicide.’’
In April 2016 – one year into the investigation – P.E.I. chief coroner Desmond Colohan told The Guardian several experts were analyzing pathology slides of lung tissue taken from Baby Albion to determine how the baby died. He added there was no evidence of trauma or injury to the baby’s body.
Hodder says police have no new reports from the forensic service in Nova Scotia to give any indication of the cause of death.
“There has been no determination yet to date,’’ he says.
Baby Albion’s gravesite was awash in colour Tuesday with several plastic flowers placed neatly in front of the tombstone that reads “SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS.’’
Rev. Stephen Plousse, pastor of Birch Hill Free Church, says the congregation will privately mark the third anniversary of the discovery of Baby Albion’s body.
“The connection is quite deep,’’ he says.
“It is almost a sense of ownership.’’
Many questions remain unanswered. Most notably, who were the parents of Baby Albion?
Also, why was the infant left outside the church on a cool spring day or night? And was Baby Albion dead or alive when placed on the bench wrapped in a towel?
“Because the questions are still open, the mind still lingers on it,’’ says Plousse.
“I think there is still hope that more will be known about it.’’