It has been one week since authorities started investigating the birth and disappearance of a newborn at an Orlando apartment parking lot, but there is still no sign of the infant girl that police are calling Baby Willow.
On Monday, investigators continued their search of a retention pond off Silver Star Road and Orlando West Drive, near the Willow Bend Apartments.
A woman who claims to be a close friend of the mother suspected of discarding her baby, 30-year-old Susan Richardson, is telling police they are looking in the wrong place.
She is insisting that Baby Willow is alive and told police and News 13 that investigators will find the baby girl at a drug house across the street from a nearby 7-Eleven store.
For days, investigators drained the retention pond, wading through muck and debris for any sign of Baby Willow. But after an exhaustive inch-by-inch search, there was no sign of the missing newborn, and the police tape came down.
Richardson continues to be uncooperative with the investigation and remains in protective custody behind bars.
The woman who claims to be a close friend of Richardson is talking to police and exclusively with News 13 says Baby Willow is alive.
“From what I’m hearing she is. She gave that baby to someone, and that person is afraid to come forward, because they think they’re going to get arrested as well," she said.
News 13 is not revealing the woman's identity, because she is concerned for her safety.
“She was heading to 7-Eleven that morning," she said. "Every morning she does that. She goes straight to 7-Eleven, walks to the drug house, comes back, goes through Willow Bend to go home. That’s her routine.”
But she said that one week ago, Richardson gave birth too soon and panicked.
“I believe they should be looking over at the crack house, in front of the 7-Eleven," she said. "I don’t know where it is. That’s what I’m hearing.”
The same information was given to Orlando Police, and on Monday, News 13 followed an officer to the 7-Eleven where surveillance video has been taken into evidence. A postal worker familiar with the area was also interviewed in the store.
An Orlando Police officer then drove across Silver Star Road to a neighborhood street, where more questions were asked.
"She said she was going to give the baby up, but again, she never said who," she said.
Orlando Police confirmed that homicide detectives are investigating the woman’s claims.
Officials are still asking anyone with information about the Baby Willow case to come forward. They said their first concern is finding the baby alive, not with filing charges against the baby’s caretaker.
You can call Crimeline anonymously at 1-800-423-TIPS.
- (Feb. 20, 2106) Search continues for Baby Willow, missing since Feb. 15
- (Feb. 19, 2016) Orange County dive team searches pond for missing newborn baby
- (Feb. 18, 2016) Friend: Baby Willow's mom has given other babies away
- (Feb. 17, 2016) 'Baby Willow' case: Blood found in suspect's apartment, cops say
- (Feb. 16, 2016) Police looking for discarded newborn; mom charged with child neglect
Susan Richardson (Orlando Police)