Nearly four years after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a plastic bag in a wooded area, agents in Georgia have arrested the woman they say is the child’s biological mother.
Karima Jiwani, 40, was charged with criminal intent to commit murder, aggravated assault, reckless abandonment, cruelty to children in the first degree and «other charges,» according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. The southeast Forsyth County woman was arrested by Deputy Terry Roper, who helped rescue the baby nearly four years ago.
Authorities found the girl in a wooded area in Cumming, Georgia, after a 911 call was received around 10 p.m. on June 6, 2019, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. Baby India, as authorities have called her, was placed in the care of a foster home approved by the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office released a video of deputies finding the newborn in the hope it will help gain «credible information» about the baby’s identity. In the video, an officer opened a plastic bag to reveal that India was still covered in fluids and with an umbilical cord attached. India was then wrapped in cloth and given first aid by paramedics before being taken to a local hospital.
Baby India was found in Forsyth County just before severe thunderstorms hit the area, Sheriff Ron H. Freeman told reporters Friday.
«Back then I called it divine intervention and I truly believe it, still today,» Freeman said. «If you look at all that it took for this girl to survive, to alert people to hearing a sound in the woods that they thought was a wild animal, but two teenagers who couldn’t let it go because they thought it sounded like a crying baby».
The girls convinced their father to go out into the woods in the middle of the night to see where the sound was coming from, Freeman said, prompting Officer Roper to arrive on the scene to help find and rescue the baby.
The investigation spanned from the Northeast to the Midwest and took thousands of hours, according to Freeman. Investigators got their break about 10 months ago when the sheriff’s office identified Baby India’s father using family DNA.
The sheriff’s office arrested Jiwani on Thursday.
“How a parent, and I happen to be a parent, can do something so insensitive is incomprehensible to all of us and infuriating,” Freeman said. «I am flabbergasted by any reasoning that could be there and how someone could have the ability to let their own child die.»
Freeman did not discuss the reason for or the details of Jiwani’s interview because of the pending prosecution.
Georgia has a safe haven law, which allows a newborn up to 30 days old to be left at a medical center, fire station, or police station without prosecution of the parents. Freeman said the evidence suggests Jiwani allegedly gave birth in a car and drove «for a significant period of time» without making any effort to use the state’s safe haven law.
«This child was tied up in a plastic bag and thrown into the forest like a garbage bag,» he said. «I can’t understand that, I really wish I could. I struggle, but I don’t know how you can understand that. It’s literally one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen in my life.»
Jiwani allegedly has «a history of covert, hidden pregnancies and surprise births» and knew of this pregnancy for «a fairly considerable period of time and went to lengths to hide it,» according to Freeman.
Roper was one of the officers who arrested Jiwani. The handcuffs placed on Jiwani, however, belonged to Freeman.
«I told you four years ago that we would find them and my wives would be on them, and we did,» Freeman said.
When it comes to Baby India, she is happy and healthy. Many members of the Forsyth community offered to step up and foster or adopt the child, according to Freeman.
«When a birth father didn’t do what he was supposed to do, Forsyth County surrounded this child with love, care and prayers and lifted her up, just like it’s supposed to,» she said.
The FBI in Atlanta and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, which can now be brought to a grand jury by the District Attorney’s office.
The district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.