On 28 May 2013, Portland police discovered the deceased baby girl at the EFI recycling centre on 4325 North Commerce Street. She was found with the umbilical cord still attached and was later determined to be the victim of a homicide.
The infant, dubbed “Baby Precious” by investigators, was described as an African-American baby girl. Authorities released her hand and footprints but despite numerous tips, detectives were unable to identify the baby for years.
The case sparked widespread community concern and garnered national attention but it eventually went cold after law enforcement hit dead-ends on all investigative leads. Then in 2019, the investigation into Baby Precious’ death changed leadership and DNA samples were sent to a forensic genetic genealogy lab.
Now, the Portland Police Bureau has announced the arrest of the baby’s father, 53-year-old Alnath Omar Oliver, on charges of manslaughter, criminal mistreatment, rape, and concealing the birth of an infant. The department said the baby’s name was Amara.
An autopsy by the Oregon State Medical Examiner determined that baby Amara was a full-term newborn and had likely been born just days before her remains were discovered.
The arrest last week came nearly four years after tissue samples were sent to a forensic crime lab. The results did not immediately provide a lead but in December 2021, the chief detective in the case was informed that a family connection had been discovered.
It took another year and a half to identify baby Amara. Detective Brendan McGuire said during a press conference last week that Amara’s mother, who was just 15 when she gave birth, will not face criminal charges.
“She was not aware that her child was deceased. She has believed since day one that Omar took the baby to the hospital,” Mr McGuire said.
— PPB North Precinct (@ppbnorth) September 21, 2023
Joyce Harris, a local leader who helped organize a memorial and burial for Amara, told local news station KWG-TV how the community came together to honour the slain baby’s life.
“She was loved, we never met her, but we cared for her,” Ms Harris said. “All that weekend [after she was found], I thought about this baby and I knew I had to do something ... We claimed her.”
The case was presented to a grand jury and Mr Oliver was indicted on 18 September.
He has been arrested by the US Marshals Service and is currently being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center.
“While we continue to mourn the death of baby Amara, we hope this significant announcement helps our community with the healing process from this tragedy,” Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. “I want to express my appreciation for the tenacity of the investigators in this case, and the determination they had to seek justice for ‘Baby Precious.’”
Under Oregon’s safe surrender law, parents are allowed to leave their infants, 30 days of age or younger, at safe haven locations — hospitals, police or fire stations and county health departments — without facing any criminal charges.
They must hand the infant to a staff member but don’t have to identify themselves.