NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A city couple has been charged with desecration of human remains and hindering an investigation into the death of their newborn baby in a strange case that unfolded over several days in the Hub City.
It's still not clear how the baby died, but authorities decided to file criminal charges against the parents, 34-year-old Jaciel Torres-Lopez, and 30-year-old Mercedes Sanchez-Torres.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), which is leading the investigation issued a press release accusing the couple of "the improper disposal of an infant."
"During the investigation, it was determined that the woman gave birth to the child, but his whereabouts were unknown… The search and the investigation are continuing," reads the release.
Neighborhood residents could first tell something was up on May 17 near 148 Remsen Avenue, where a sprawling crime scene included police undertaking an excavation with the help of a private contractor.
Firefighters and equipment were also brought to the scene to blast water through the underground sewer pipes, once the hole had been dug.
"Police authorized an excavation of a sewer line at the couple’s home on Remsen Avenue… and the began a search of the Edgeboro Disposal Inc. landfill in East Brunswick on May 18," reads the official statement.
The "Edgeboro" landfill, located just across the border from New Brunswick, is actually operated by Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA), not Edgeboro Disposal Inc.
"As many as 30 law enforcement officers have been searching the landfill for the infant’s remains, which have yet to be recovered," reads the MCPO release.
After a day of searching through the landfill for the remains of the baby, authorities charged the couple on May 19, and finally announced to the public what they have been investigating on May 20.
Torres-Lopez, the father was served with the charges at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center, where he has been held since his arrest on May 17 on charges of hindering, "for lying to police during the investigation," according to the MCPO.
The mother, meanwhile, was charged during her stay at St. Peter's University Hospital, "where she was admitted after giving birth to the male infant," according to the MCPO.
The charges were filed by NBPD Detective Thierry "Harry" Lemmerling and MCPO Detective David Abromaitis.
Bail for both of the accused was set at $100,000.