In August, Albert Peterson thought he heard a cat meowing in a nearby bush.
But Peterson, who was on his way to work at 5 a.m. in Houston, discovered something completely different. It was an hours-old newborn baby, covered in ants and dirt, and lying in a flowerbed.
That baby girl belonged to 21-year-old Sidney Woytasczyk, whom police accused of giving birth to the girl, cutting the umbilical cord herself and then putting the infant outside in a bush before heading back to bed.
Now 22, Woytasczyk pleaded guilty to a felony charge of abandoning a child under the age of 15, according to the Houston Chronicle. A judge gave her four years in prison on Tuesday. The baby’s father wasn’t charged in the case.
John Baldwin, who also found the baby when going to work, recorded the first moments he and Peterson discovered the distressed newborn.
“Bro, that’s crazy. Somebody left their baby out here,” he said in the recording. “You gotta call 911, bro.”
Police arrived and found a trail of blood leading to a nearby apartment.
Detectives knocked on the apartment’s door, police say, but the residents refused to open it. And when a couple finally did, they denied knowing anything about the child. But then a woman in the apartment, later identified as Woytasczyk, admitted that she was the mother, police say.
She told police that her boyfriend didn’t know she was pregnant, ABC13 reported, and that she didn’t want him to know. So Woytasczyk allegedly gave birth in the kitchen, tried to hide the evidence of what happened and then went back to sleep.
Nurses said that Woytasczyk’s child — who developed a bacterial infection but survived — could have bled out after her mother incorrectly cut the umbilical cord, according to prosecutors in the case. Prosecutors also said the mother let her child drop to the floor while giving birth in the kitchen, ABC13 reported, before placing the infant outside.
It wasn’t long until Peterson happened upon the child and called police.
“She was there on the ground in the flower bed with ants,” he told Channel 2 News. “She was covered from head to toe and all in her ears... She had a lot of strength, too. She was fighting.”
Harris County Deputy Thomas Gilliland said he’s glad Peterson was in the right place at the right time.
“Had this neighbor not been here, we’d be looking at a homicide,” he told KSAT. “It’s a miracle the child was found.”