A newborn baby found dead in a small patch of woodland could have been alive when she was rolled down a steep rock face into bushes, police have said.
Officers said today they believe the abandoned infant may be the product of rape or incest.
Baby Pearl was discovered covered in bite marks from foxes and dogs just after 7am on April 4 in a small tract of land known locally as Bluebell Forest.
The child was found just 500 yards from a housing estate in Heywood near Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
The newborn baby girl named Pearl by police was found dead two weeks ago. Today a detective chief inspector said the child could have been the product of rape or incest
A police officer brought a pink Moses basket from home to carry away the child, who police now believe may have still been alive when she was tossed down the rocky slope
Detectives named the poor child Pearl, meaning precious, because they felt it was important for her to have an identity after such a short, harsh life.
Speaking to press, Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Hughes said: ‘I can only hope [Pearl] wasn’t alive at the point she was left here. The alternative doesn’t really bear thinking about.’
‘We believe the mother may be somebody in distress,’ he added.
‘Whoever left Pearl here was someone with no emotional attachment for that baby. There was not a scrap of clothing on her.
‘She has been treated with no compassion. If it was the mother [who dumped Pearl], she could be a rape victim, or a victim of abuse or incest. It may be a mother who has concealed the birth from others.’
His team now believe the tiny tot was carried up a hill in the Roch Valley Woods then rolled down a steep rock face into bushes. Police were forced to abseil down to retrieve the newborn’s body.
A relative of the woman whose dog found the body said the woman ‘has not stopped crying since.’
‘It was an horrific sight. Something nobody should ever have to see,’ they added.
Cards, balloons, flowers and posters for God’s ‘new little angel’ form part of a shrine to the unidentified child
Pearls body was removed in a pink Moses basket by a female officer who brought it from home to give the child some dignity.
Bereft locals residents left flowers and teddy bears in tribute to the baby once the police cordon had been lifted, with several calling her ‘God’s newest little angel’.
Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Hughes (pictured today) said the baby is white, or potentially mixed race, during an appeal for public information
Pearl is believed to be of white ethnicity, but officers said they could not rule out mixed heritage as it is impossible for them to tell. The cause of her death is still unknown.
During a press conference the day of the grisly discovery DCI Hughes pleaded with anyone who might have information about the parents or how Pearl ended up in the woods to come forward.
He said: ‘This is a truly heart-breaking case for all those involved and I know everyone from officers to paramedics and the public have felt the impact of this.
‘We felt it was only right to name to baby girl as it’s important we feel that she is given an identity. We also feel that the name we have chosen which is Pearl, meaning precious, has an appropriate meaning.
‘Obviously all children are precious and this child that has been found in the woods is no different.
‘There’s many different elements to this investigation and it’s been very difficult up to now to try and piece those together.
‘What’s important for me is establishing exactly what’s happened to baby Pearl and we’re looking on the public to assist us with.
Flowers and cards have been left where the child lay but mystery continues to surround her birth and parents
After the cordon around the woodland was lifted locals flooded the area to leave tributes to the unknown child
‘I believe someone somewhere knows who the parents are and I believe somebody somewhere knows who put baby Pearl in the woods where she was found by local dog walkers.
‘I’d like to appeal to the public if anyone seen anything, heard anything or knows anything, however small they might think that is it could be really important information to us and I’d like to encourage anybody to come forward with that information.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 4810 or 07387 705768 quoting incident number 368 of 04/04/18. Reports can also be made anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.