A man rummaging for food in a Dumpster at a North Miami gas station made a startling discovery early Friday: a dead, newborn boy wrapped in cloth in a box — with a toe tag.
How exactly the body got there remained a mystery late Friday. But the toe tag offered a big clue to police, who now suspect the child was dead long before it was placed in the Dumpster, and that it may have come from a funeral home.
A Carey Royal Ram’n funeral home worker whose assignment was to deliver the baby’s body to a crematorium told police he instead went home and left the body in his company van. Later, he saw TV accounts of a baby having been found in a Dumpster and raced to the scene. There, he told police that he had discovered the van had been burglarized and the box holding the baby was among several boxes stolen.
Late Friday, police identified the worker as Jarren Hoob, son of the funeral home owner. He was taken into custody and will be charged with obstructing the investigation, a police spokesman said.
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North Miami Police Maj. Neal Cuevas said the baby appeared to be about a week old. Late Friday, police still hadn’t released his name. They believe they know the child’s identity but hadn’t said if family members had been contacted.
North Miami police said they had no record of any nearby funeral homes being broken into Thursday night, or early Friday morning. The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office wouldn’t confirm if it had received a baby in the past 48 hours unless a name was revealed.
Police were alerted to the grisly discovery at the gas station, at 1601 NW 119th St., by a 911 call received at 5:45 a.m. Authorities immediately cordoned off the station and scoured the scene for fibers or any other clues that could help identify the child, its parents, or who brought it there.
Police took pictures and spoke with potential witnesses. The station’s exterior had a number of surveillance cameras, but it isn’t known if they were turned on or working.
“We’re looking into the cause of death,” said Cuevas.
The gas station has the words Food Center on the blue trim circling its roof. It’s across the street from the Alhambra Cove apartment complex and next door to a church. Behind it are homes.
Though the body lay covered on the ground just outside the closed doors of the station’s garage for several hours Friday morning, crime scene technicians took pictures inside an adjacent dumpster.
The gas station was open when the baby was abandoned, Cuevas said.
A man who worked there and identified himself only as Mike to Miami Herald news partner CBS 4, said someone entered the station and said he found a baby in a box.
“I went outside and there was a baby in a box. There was papers and stuff in the box. That’s about it,” the worker said. He later said the papers were actually diapers.
Police would not confirm that anything other than a toe tag was found. It’s common practice for a funeral home or the medical examiner’s office to place tags on a body for identification.