Almost four years after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a plastic bag in a wooded area, deputies in Georgia have arrested the woman they say is the child’s biological mother.
Karima Jiwani, 40, was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, reckless abandonment, cruelty to children in the first degree and “other charges,” according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. The southeast Forsyth County woman was arrested by Deputy Terry Roper, who helped rescue the baby almost four years ago.
Authorities found the baby girl in a wooded area in Cumming, Georgia, after a 911 call came in around 10 p.m. on June 6, 2019, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. Baby India, as she has been named by authorities, was placed in the care of a foster care approved by the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office released video of deputies finding the newborn in the hopes that it would help lead to “credible information” on the baby’s identity. In the video, a deputy ripped open a plastic bag to reveal India still covered in fluids and an umbilical cord attached. India was then wrapped in cloth and given first aid 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 on Friday.
“Back then I called it divine intervention and I truly believe that, still today,” Freeman said. “If you look at everything that had to happen for this little girl to survive, for alert people to hear a sound in the woods that they thought was a wild animal, but two teenage girls who couldn’t let it go because they thought it sounded like a baby crying.”
The girls convinced their father to go out in the middle of the night to the woods to see where the sound was coming from, Freeman said, which led to Deputy Roper arriving on scene to help discover and rescue the baby.
The investigation spanned from the northeast to the midwest and took thousands of hours, according to Freeman. Investigators got their break about 10 months ago when the sheriff’s office identified Baby India’s father using familial DNA.
The sheriff’s office arrested Jiwani on Thursday.
“How a parent, and I happen to be one too, can do such a callous thing, is both incomprehensible, to all of us, and infuriating,” Freeman said. “I’m dumbfounded by any reasoning that could be there and how someone can have the ability to leave their own child to die.”
Freeman did not discuss motive or the details of Jiwani’s interview due to pending prosecution.
Georgia has a Safe Haven law, allowing a newborn up to 30 days old to be left at a medical facility, fire station or a police station without prosecution to the parents. Freeman said evidence suggests Jiwani allegedly gave birth in a car and drove around “for a significant period of time,” making no effort to utilize the state’s Safe Haven law.
“This child was tied up in a plastic bag and thrown into the woods like a bag of trash,” he said. “I can’t understand that, I truly wish I could. I struggle, but I don’t know how you can understand that. It literally is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.”
Jiwani allegedly has “a history of hidden and concealed pregnancies and surprise births” and had known of this pregnancy for “a fairly considerable period of time and went through extremes to conceal” it,” according to Freeman.
Roper was one of the deputies who arrested Jiwani. The handcuffs put on Jiwani, however, belonged to Freeman.
“I told you four years ago we would find ’em and my cuffs would be on ’em, and they were,” said Freeman.
When it comes to Baby India, she’s happy and healthy. Many members of the Forsyth community offered to step up and foster or adopt the child, according to Freeman.
“When a biological parent wouldn’t do what they’re supposed to do, Forsyth County surrounded this little girl with love, care and prayers and lifted her up, the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.
The FBI in Atlanta and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations assisted the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, which can now be taken to a grand jury by the District Attorney’s office.
The District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.