'Squeaks' drew rescuers to abandoned newborn

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Deborah Mackey is escorted to her arraignment.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
FRANKLIN -- The newborn girl's name is "Baby Hope" though she started life at the bottom of a bathroom trash bin.

Amid the waste, the six-week premature infant lay buried, bloody and barely breathing. The umbilical cord that had linked her with her mother was torn and dangling.

Police investigators say the hands that severed that life-line Monday afternoon were those of Baby Hope's mother -- 38-year-old Deborah A. Mackey of Middletown, who was charged late Tuesday with attempted murder.

In the women's bathroom at Ample Industries Inc., Hope's labored breathing created a toy-like squeaking sound. Those tiny, desperate gasps saved her from dying.

A cleaning woman at the paper packaging company heard the strange noise and called Ample's human resource assistant, Kim Lovelace, to help her inspect the trash can for the source of the sound.

Together the two nervously, gingerly tilted the trash can and peered inside.

"I said, 'Oh my God! There's a head!' " Ms. Lovelace told The Cincinnati Enquirer Tuesday, fighting back tears.

They gently pulled the 3-pound, 6-ounce baby free.

"I thought for sure she was dead until she squeaked a little bit. She was purple. I started to rub her chest. I said, 'She is not going to die,' " she said.

Though Butler County court officials have dubbed the infant "Baby Girl Mackey," Ms. Lovelace said she and other Ample employees, prefer a different moniker.

"At first we wanted to name her Holly because of Christmas," she said. "But we changed it to Baby Hope."

And Baby Hope has survived so far.

The dark-haired infant remained in critical condition late Tuesday at Children's Medical Center in Dayton. Authorities credit the fast action of Ms. Lovelace, other Ample Industries workers and the Franklin emergency rescue squad for saving the baby's life. A CareFlight helicopter whisked her from the grounds of Ample Industries to the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit around 4 p.m. Monday.

Ms. Mackey, of the 2800 block of Aspen Road in Middletown, told Franklin police detectives that she discarded the just-born baby in the bathroom trash can.

Ms. Mackey, who is single and has no other children, showed little emotion during her arraignment before Franklin Municipal Court Judge James Ruppert on Tuesday evening. She stood in handcuffs and leg shackles, with her head bowed.

"She admitted to me the child was alive at the time she placed it in the trash can," Franklin Detective Rick Thacker told the judge. "She said she lied to co-workers" in hiding her pregnancy, he added.

Ms. Mackey, a graduate of Carlisle High School in Warren County and an Ample employee since October, answered only with a short "yes" and "no," to the judge's questions. She had no attorney and could not enter a plea without legal representation.

She faces attempted murder charges and will have a preliminary hearing Tuesday. If convicted of the second-degree felony, she could face two to eight years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

She remained in the Franklin city jail Tuesday night in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

As news of Baby Hope's fight to live spread through the Tristate on Tuesday, dozens of offers to adopt the infant swamped phone lines at children services boards in Warren County, where the baby was found, and Butler County, where the mother lives.

"Quite honestly, it makes me sick when this comes on the news. This may sound tacky, but if she doesn't want it, I want it," Anne Artino of West Chester told The Enquirer. She and her husband, Gino, have tried unsuccessfully for eight years to conceive.

Butler County Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus granted temporary custody of Baby Hope to that county's children services board on Tuesday.

Linda Lee Smith, spokeswoman for Butler County Children Services Board, said the agency will investigate whether the baby should be placed with relatives.

The agency will present its findings to Judge Niehaus for his decision on placement, Ms. Smith said.

"My voice mail is filled with calls from people who want to adopt this child," said Patti Jacobs, spokeswoman for Warren County Children's Services.

Ms. Jacobs said the state requires children services boards to try to place a child with family. If that doesn't work, the agency would dip into a pool of foster parents to care for the child, she said.

"This child may not be wanted by its mother, but it would be wanted by others," Mrs. Artino said.

A man living at Ms. Mackey's trailer park address in the Riverside Valley complex refused to comment Tuesday.

Neighbors said Ms. Mackey lives in the mobile home with a boyfriend. Neighbor Bob Dotson said the couple didn't socialize much and that when he did see the 5-foot-5 Ms. Mackey, who police said weighs 117 pounds, she did not appear pregnant.

"I don't know how a woman can be about to have a baby and no one around her know about it," Mr. Dotson said..

Jim Cracraft, human resource director for Ample Industries, said none of Ms. Mackey's co-workers suspected she was pregnant. A prolonged bathroom break late Monday afternoon did make a supervisor suspicious enough to check on the woman after about 15 minutes. But Ms. Mackey answered from a bathroom stall that she was fine, according to Mr. Cracraft.

She emerged and told a supervisor she felt ill and wanted to go home.

"She just strolled out of the plant. She was walking normally," said Mr. Cracraft. "She put on sunglasses and drove off."

Local Headlines For Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Special Coverage: CLINTON UNDER FIRE
'Squeaks' drew rescuers to abandoned newborn
Cause of fire sought
Choir tumbles when risers collapse
Cincinnati's Dubious Achievements
Ex-coach pleads guilty to sex, drug charges
Flaky weather means snow is overdue
Insurance rate hearing held
Kenton chooses jail site
Long crusade makes U.S. 42 safer
Louie Nunn, 74, may run again for Ky. governor
Medicaid has weak HMOs
Nitric acid leak blamed on truck's failed gasket
Northside sees progress despite arson string
Plans to widen Ohio 747 shift slightly, expensively
Santa did it for the love
Schizophrenia: From helplessness to hope
Resources for information, support
Symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia
State investigates jail abuse complaints
Transplant brings sight
Verdict rebutted on use of semicolon
Young molesters sentenced to probation and counseling