The teenage mother caught on surveillance footage allegedly tossing her newborn baby alive into a dumpster in New Mexico has claimed she “panicked” when she gave birth just one day after learning she was pregnant.
Alexis Avila, 18, was arrested and charged with attempted murder and felony child abuse after her infant son was found wrapped in a bloody towel and a plastic trash bag in a dumpster in a parking lot in Hobbs on 7 January - around six hours after being left there.
Ms Avila told investigators she didn’t know she was pregnant until 6 January when she sought medical attention because she was suffering from abdominal pain and constipation, Acting Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said in a press conference on Monday afternoon.
He said the teenager said she then began experiencing more stomach pains the following day and gave birth.
She said she “panicked and did not know what to do or who to call” so she cut the umbilical cord, wrapped her baby in the dirty towel and put him in a trash bag, he said.
Ms Avila said she then drove around for a while before deciding to put the baby in a dumpster, he said.
Disturbing surveillance footage captured what happened next.
The video shows a car pulling up next to the dumpster at around 2pm local time on Friday afternoon.
The woman, identified by police as Ms Avila, is seen stepping out of the drivers’ seat, opening the back door and taking a black trash bag from the backseat.
She then uses two hands to hurl the package into the dumpster before getting back in the vehicle and driving away from the scene.
The newborn baby was miraculously found alive around six hours hours later by three people.
The police chief said the three people - two men and one woman - had been “going through the dumpster looking for anything of value” when they heard what sounded like a baby crying.
They took the bag out of the dumpster but assumed it would be a dog or kitten, he said.
Instead, they discovered the newborn baby.
“The baby was wrapped in a bathtowel which was dirty and wet and had dried blood on it, with the umbilical cord still attached,” he said.
Footage shows the three people standing by a truck and looking through the dumpster before one of them pulls out a black trash bag and opens it.
One of the other people is seen quickly unraveling the bag and pulling out the baby.
She cradles the infant in her arms and gets inside the truck while one of the other people is seen on the phone.
Multiple flashing law enforcement vehicles are seen arriving on the scene minutes later.
Chief Fons praised the “quick response” of the three people who he said were “pivotal” in saving the baby’s life by contacting 911 and keeping the baby warm until medics arrived.
He said that officers had received a 911 call about a baby alive in a dumpster at the 1400 block of N. Thorps in Hobbs at around 7:45pm on Friday.
They arrived on the scene to find two men near a truck and a woman inside the truck holding the baby.
The baby was treated at the scene and rushed to hospital for treatment.
The child is in a stable condition in hospital, said Chief Fons.
Authorities tracked down the infant’s mother after reviewing the footage captured on a nearby store Rig Outfitters and Home Store, owned by Joe Imbriale.
Investigators were able to get a partial licence plate from the footage, identify the vehicle and visit the Avila family home.
There, Ms Avila’s parents said she had been driving the vehicle.
Ms Avila came to the police station where she confessed to giving birth to the child and then placing the baby in the dumpster.
She was arrested and charged with attempted murder and felony child abuse.
She told authorities the identity of the baby’s father but his identity is not being publicly revealed because he is underage, said Chief Fons. Her parents said they had no knowledge of their daughter’s pregnancy.
When asked what she thought would happen to her baby after she left him in the dumpster, the police chief said she “remained silent and could not answer”.
Mr Imbriale told KOB4 he was contacted by police on Friday night asking to view the surveillance footage from his store.
He said he knew something wasn’t right from the expressions on their faces and said he was in “shock” to learn what had happened.
"Something wasn’t right, I saw the officers’ faces, and they did not look right. They really didn’t,” he told the local outlet.
“I said ‘what is it we are looking for’ and she goes ‘we’re looking for somebody who dumped a black garbage bag in your dumpster.’
“I turned around, I said ‘please don’t tell me it was a baby.’”
Mr Imbriale said he has “no words” for the “evil” actions: “I can’t sleep at night just knowing that this baby was just tossed in a dumpster like that. I’m sorry but who does that? That is evil. I don’t have words for it,” he said.