Teen Accused of Leaving Newborn in Dumpster Unaware of Pregnancy Till Days Before Birth

Alexis Avila, a teen accused of leaving a newborn in a dumpster, was unaware of her pregnancy until days before the birth.

Avila, 18, of Hobbs, Texas, told detectives in an interview she didn't know she was pregnant until Jan. 6 when she sought medical attention for abdominal pain, Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said. She was having stomach pain the next day and gave birth unexpectedly, she told detectives.

"She further explained that she panicked and did not know what to do or who to call," Fons said.

On Friday, a group of people went looking through a dumpster for anything of value in Hobbs when they heard what they thought was a kitten or dog, Fons said in a news conference Monday. The people moved a trash bag, discovering a baby inside with a dirty blanket wrapped around it, its umbilical cord still attached.

They called authorities immediately, attempting to keep the boy warm until paramedics and police arrived. Authorities estimated the infant was in the dumpster for around 6 hours before being found.

"Their collective quick response to this emergency, including notification of 911, was absolutely pivotal in saving this baby's life," Fons said.

Investigators used surveillance footage to identify a car they suspected was involved, leading them to Avila. Avila admitted to giving birth to the boy at a different location, then leaving the baby in the dumpster.

Officers gave aid to the infant before paramedics transported him to the hospital. Since then, the baby has been transferred to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas. He is in stable condition.

Alexis Avila, Arrested, Dumped Baby
This undated photo provided by the Hobbs Police Department shows Alexis Avila, an 18-year-old Hobbs woman facing charges after police say she abandoned her newborn baby in a dumpster. She could face a charge of attempted first-degree murder or felony child abuse, depending on an upcoming preliminary hearing. Hobbs Police Department via AP

According to a court documents, Avila told authorities she started driving around until she decided to place the baby inside a dumpster near a shopping area.

Search warrants for Avila's car and her family's home turned up blood evidence, clothing and a towel.

She was booked on a charge of attempted first-degree murder or in the alternative felony child abuse. Prosecutors said the charge will be determined during an upcoming preliminary hearing.

Ibukun Adepoju, a public defender who is representing Avila, said in a statement that her client is "barely 18 herself."

"Whatever happened is already a tragedy for her family and the community," Adepoju said. "As humans, we should practice compassion as we wait for the justice system to work."

Like other states, New Mexico has a safe haven law, which allows parents to leave a baby younger than 90 days at a safe location without criminal consequences. The laws began to pass in state legislatures around the nation in the early 2000s in response to reports of gruesome baby killings and abandonments, which received copious media attention.

Hobbs authorities reiterated that police and fire stations are among the places that are considered safe havens under the law and encouraged anyone in a similar situation to reach out for help.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.