KEARNS — Days after a woman was accused of leaving her newborn baby in a trash can, questions remain about her mental capacity, whether she knew she was pregnant and the identity of the baby's father.
Alicia Englert, 23, was arrested Tuesday for investigation of attempted murder after a newborn baby girl was found in a garbage can with trash on top of her. Jail documents state the baby had not received any medical treatment or proper nutrition before being discarded.
The baby remained in critical condition Friday, but she is "stable and showing signs of improvement," Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.
The baby remains in state custody, and investigators are still trying to identify the infant's father.
“To say that we have tips as to who he is, that’s probably a stretch," Hoyal said. "Probably the better way to say it is we have information we’re following up on, because we don’t know, because we’re looking into information and following up on that. We’re still looking into different possibilities."
Englert told police she had the baby Monday and put the baby in the trash "in hopes that it would die and solve her problems," according to a jail report.
Englert remained in jail Friday. Officials are trying to keep her there for another week while they work to gather enough information to file charges.
“This is a very important case for us and for our community and for law enforcement," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said, "and we want to be very thorough, but we also want to make sure that we get all the material that we need to make the right judgment call.”
The delay in filing charges is "standard practice for a big case," Hoyal said.
Englert's parents insist she has "special needs" and did not understand her actions.
"She doesn't process things correctly," her father, Robert Englert, said Wednesday. "She didn't know what to do. She was confused. She was scared."
Police are investigating photos believed to show Alicia Englert holding a bottle of beer at a Salt Lake nightclub just days before the baby's birth. Investigators are trying to determine whether the photos will help in the case, according to Hoyal.
One employee at the club questions whether Alicia Englert knew she was pregnant.
Rachel Beckstrand, a bouncer at the club, said she saw Alicia Englert at the club every Friday and most Saturdays for the past three months, with the exception of one week. She said she thought the woman was pregnant but was not sure.
"I didn’t want to flat-out ask her if she was pregnant because that’s kind of rude," Beckstrand said. “But I would ask her, like, ‘Are you good to drink?’ Thinking maybe she would understand that means, 'Are you, like, physically able to?' And she would always just say, ‘Yeah, I’m good. I’m fine to drink.’ And so we believed her because maybe she didn’t even know. I don’t even know, at this point, looking back, if she knew.”
Alicia Englert's next-door neighbor, who asked not to be identified, was among those who found the baby Tuesday. While she did not know Alicia Englert, she said the parents are "absolutely wonderful, wonderful people. They care about our neighborhood and their neighbors around them."
The neighbor's father, who lives in San Diego, said he heard about his daughter's involvement over the phone. The woman went outside early Tuesday morning when it was still dark and heard a noise, he said. She thought it was a cat but could not find it. His daughter could not shake the feeling that there was something out there and went back an hour later to search, he said.
Eventually, she and neighbors — including Robert Englert — discovered the baby.
The neighbor, who was adopted as a baby, said she wants to help raise awareness for Safe Haven laws and adoption programs.
"Just be aware that if you chose Safe Haven or adoption, there is no judgement toward the women who choose that,” she said. “What it means is there’s a chance out there, and you have choices.”
Utah's Safe Haven law, in effect since 2011, lets parents or designees leave newborns at any 24-hour hospital without legal consequences. Call 866-458-0058 or email email@example.com for more information.
Salt Lake County also offers a crisis hotline at 801-587-3000 where people can learn about available services, including parenting classes, temporary respite care for infants and children, and more, depending on the circumstances.
Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba, Mary Ellen Geist
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: whitevs7