Nearly four years after a newborn baby was found in a plastic bag in a wooded area, Georgia officials have arrested the woman they say is the child’s biological mother.
Karima Jiwani, 40, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, reckless abandonment, cruelty to first-degree children and “other counts,” according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. The southeast Forsyth County woman was arrested by Deputy Terry Roper, who helped rescue the baby nearly four years ago.
According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, authorities found the little girl in a wooded area in Cumming, Georgia after an emergency call was received around 10 p.m. on June 6, 2019. Baby India, as authorities called her, was placed in the care of a foster family approved by the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office released video of officers finding the newborn in hopes it would lead to “credible information” about the baby’s identity. In the video, an officer ripped open a plastic bag to reveal India, still covered in liquids, with an umbilical cord attached. India was then wrapped in a sheet and first aid administered by paramedics before being taken to a local hospital.
Baby India was found in Forsyth County just before severe thunderstorms hit the area, Sheriff Ron H. Freeman told reporters Friday.
“I called it divine intervention then, and I still believe that now,” Freeman said. “If you look at everything that had to happen for this little girl to survive, it’s that vigilant people in the woods heard what they thought was a wild animal, but two teenage girls didn’t let go because they thought it sounded like a baby crying.
The girls persuaded their father to go into the woods in the middle of the night to see where the noise was coming from, Freeman said, which led to Deputy Roper arriving on the scene to help find and rescue the baby.
The investigation stretched from the Northeast to the Midwest and lasted thousands of hours, according to Freeman. Investigators got their breakthrough about ten months ago when the sheriff’s office identified baby India’s father using family DNA.
The sheriff’s office arrested Jiwani on Thursday.
“As a parent, and I happen to be one too, being able to do something callous like that is both incomprehensible and annoying to all of us,” Freeman said. “I am amazed at any rationale anyone can give to their own child to die.”
Due to the pending prosecution, Freeman did not elaborate on the motive or details of Jiwani’s interview.
Georgia has a safe-haven law that allows a newborn up to 30 days of age to be left in a medical facility, fire station, or police station without the parents being prosecuted. Freeman said there was evidence that Jiwani was allegedly born in a car and drove around “for a significant amount of time” without bothering to apply the state’s safe-haven law.
“This kid was tied up in a plastic bag and thrown in the woods like a garbage bag,” he said. “I can’t understand this, I really wish I could. It’s hard for me, but I don’t know how you can understand that. It’s literally one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.”
According to Freeman, Jiwani allegedly had “a history of covert and covert pregnancies and surprise births” and was “aware of this pregnancy for quite a long period of time and took extreme measures to conceal it.”
Roper was one of the proxies who arrested Jiwani. However, the handcuffs that were put on Jiwani belonged to Freeman.
“I told you four years ago that we would find them and that my handcuffs would be on them, and they were,” Freeman said.
As for baby India, she is happy and healthy. According to Freeman, many members of the Forsyth community offered to take in or adopt the child.
“When a birth parent did not do what she was supposed to do, Forsyth County surrounded this little girl with love, care and prayers and raised her as she was meant to be,” he said.
The FBI in Atlanta and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations are assisting the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, which is now ready for the district attorney’s office to submit to a grand jury.
Prosecutors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.