Police said the infant was believed to have an estimated gestational age between 20 and 24 weeks. The body has been turned over to the Office of Medical Examiner for a postmortem investigation, while police look for information about how the baby was abandoned.
Joel Coplin, who lives near where the baby was found, told 12 News that the scene was “utterly horrific.”
“They thought it was a doll at first, but it wasn’t,” he told the outlet.
Coplin also said he saw the police outside and asked his neighbor about the situation later. His neighbor reportedly saw someone lighting something on fire.
“[He told me] his fiancé came and was trying to put the fire out, and then he went to stomp on it to put it out and realized it was a baby in there,” Coplin told the outlet. “He saw the head, a perfectly shaped head, and little arms, hands, legs, chest. He grabbed his fiance and turned away so she wouldn’t see it, and he was freaked out. He called 911.”
Coplin added that he wasn’t surprised that something like this would happen in the area.
“Anything can happen around here,” he said. “We’re right down here in ‘The Zone,’ and anything and everything does happen.”
“The Zone,” is what locals call the homeless encampment, where upward of 1,000 people live in tents. The increase in the homeless population has led to a spike in crime in the area, with theft, assaults, and drugs plaguing the makeshift town, Fox 10 Phoenix reported.
The outlet found that since 2019, police have responded to 801 incidents within The Zone, 278 incidents in 2020 alone. So far this year, nearly 185 incidents have been called in as of September, putting 2022 on pace to surpass 2021’s total calls.
Thefts are the most commonly reported crime in The Zone, with almost 300 cases since 2019. In the past three years, police have also responded to 229 aggravated assault calls and 130 drug offenses, with fentanyl being one of the biggest concerns.
Robberies, rapes, and burglaries are also reported. There have been six reported murders and four reported arsons as well.
These are just the reported crimes. J.R., who has lived in The Zone for eight years, told Fox 10 that crime is underreported.
“Not everybody’s gonna tell on you out here,” he said.