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Search On For Baby Cut From Dead Mother's Womb

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WORCESTER, Mass. - A pregnant woman was found dead in her apartment with her fetus cut from her womb, and police on Wednesday were trying to find the missing baby, which they said could have survived.

Darlene Haynes was about eight months' pregnant and the child would have needed immediate medical attention to survive, authorities said.

Haynes' body was found Monday by her landlord, William Thompson, who said a "horrifying smell" led him to her, where he found her body wrapped in bedding in a closet.

Police said the 23-year-old victim had apparently been dead for several days, and that she hadn't contacted family or friends since Thursday. It was not until an autopsy on Tuesday that authorities discovered the fetus was missing.

"It's horrific," Thompson said Wednesday. "There's no words to describe what's going on in this building today."

Police said they are not ruling out anyone as a possible suspect, but declined to give any specifics about the search for the killer or the baby.

"We're looking for a live infant or we're looking for a deceased infant ... on top of who killed the woman," Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst said.

Haysha Toledo, 17, a neighbor who said she often saw Haynes walking in what she called "a nice quiet neighborhood," said neighbors used to hear "a lot of fighting" from the apartment she shared until recently with her boyfriend, Roberto Rodriguez.

"We used to hear her crying and screaming but no one ever really did anything," Toledo said, adding that neighbors did not want to get involved.

Haynes had a restraining order against Rodriguez, who allegedly pushed her into a glass table in June and cut her arm, then grabbed her by the throat and slapped her, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reported, citing court records.

Court records also showed Rodriguez was charged with hitting Haynes in 2008 in a case that was continued without a finding.

In June, Haynes described the 24-year-old Rodriguez as her boyfriend of several years. Her landlord said Rodriguez moved out of the apartment last month.

Rodriguez was interviewed by authorities. In an interview with WCVB-TV, he said Haynes was "a nice girl."

"She had her problems, you know, but nobody deserves to go (through) what she went through," he said.

The exact cause of Haynes' death has not yet been determined pending toxicology tests, but Worcester Police Detective Capt. Edward J. McGinn Jr. said the autopsy indicated Haynes suffered head injuries.

Family members said she had three other children.

Her youngest, an 18-month-old girl, is in state custody, according to Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Alison Goodwin. Family members had been looking after her.

Karl Whitney, Haynes' uncle who is acting as a spokesman for the family, said Haynes' grandmother, Joanne Haynes, is raising the two other children, Jasmine, 5, and Lillian, 3.

He told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that Haynes had picked the name Sheila Marie for her fourth child.

"We so much hope and pray whoever did this will come forward and bring the baby for medical care," Whitney told the Telegram.

Haynes' aunt, 58-year-old Sandra Grandmaison, told The Boston Herald that Haynes postponed two visits with her older children last week because she said she was having problems walking.

"She was a very sad, very young girl who never really grew up," Grandmaison said. "Darlene does not have the know-how or the ability to sense danger."

___

AP reporter Jeannie Nuss contributed to this report from Boston.

(This version CORRECTS the spelling of the children's names and ages.)

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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