After 11 days missing, the 3-month-old Schenectady baby who police have been searching for amidst a slew of confusing stories was delivered safe and sound asleep Saturday morning to an Albany priest.
The Rev. John Bradley vaguely recalled hearing on the morning news that a baby from Schenectady had gone missing. He hardly knew what to say when that baby, Madison Green, arrived at his rectory less than four hours later.
When an unidentified man entered Blessed Sacrament Church on Central Avenue just before morning reconciliation, asking to see a priest, a parishioner directed him and the baby he was carrying to the rectory next door to see Bradley.
“He came in and said, ‘Father, I want to leave this baby here at the church,’ ” Bradley recalled a few hours after police arrived and took the infant to Albany Medical Center as a precaution. Paramedics called to the church said she was in good condition.
More on Madison Green
“This doesn’t happen, this never happens,” Bradley continued. “He was very serious. He said to me, ‘I’m not involved in this. I have nothing to do with this.’ He said, ‘I just want to leave the child here so the child is safe.’ I said, ‘OK, that’s OK.’ ”
It was about 10:25 a.m. when the man left and told Bradley on his way out the door that the baby’s name was Madison. That was when the priest began to connect the dots.
Madison Green went missing Jan. 25. Now, the girl’s mother, 28-year-old Janel Davis of Schenectady, is in the Schenectady County jail, charged with two counts of perjury after denying she was the girl’s mother, despite a fingerprint match from Ellis Hospital, where Madison was born. The girl’s father, Deralle Green, was charged with criminal contempt and custodial interference after the Schenectady County Department of Social Services accused him of not revealing where Madison was.
On top of custodial issues for the courts and police was a story Davis told of a gang member taking Madison in order to obtain welfare. DSS officials confirmed the fraudulent welfare request came from someone using Madison’s birth certificate. And police found Madison with the gang member’s family — who later petitioned for custody — and returned her to Davis on Jan. 19. Six days later, caseworkers performed an inspection of Davis’ home and determined Madison was missing.
Bradley knew few details of the ongoing investigation as he stood before the baby girl and the man in the rectory Saturday morning. But the first thing he did after the man left was dial 911 and ask for paramedics. He wanted to make sure the baby was OK.
Albany police and paramedics arrived and examined Madison, who had been sleeping in a carrier in the middle of the rectory floor, covered in a blue blanket next to a bag the man had left with formula, diapers and “some little clothing,” Bradley said.
“The baby looked wonderful, and even the paramedics said the baby was well fed and well taken care of,” said Bradley. “She was just a delightful little girl. She was pleasant.”
The infant is now in the custody of Schenectady County Child Protective Services, which was awarded custody through by a Family Court judge after the girl’s parents were both deemed negligent by DSS. Both are being held in jail.
Madison was undergoing evaluation at Albany Med on Saturday, but it is unknown when she was released. Child Protective Services officials could not be reached Saturday afternoon.
Bradley did say, however, that Schenectady police called him before 3 p.m. to say she was in good shape.
“They said the baby was absolutely fine, and everything was good, and they were glad to have the baby safe,” he said. “That was their thing, they said, ‘We were just grateful that she’s safe, and a lot of worse things could have happened.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah.’ I mean, you read about these things happening in New York, but you never think about it happening here in our little office.”
Schenectady police Lt. Mark McCracken said Saturday afternoon that police are still investigating just where the child was from the time she was last seen to the time she was dropped off at the church. He declined to say whether police were actively pursuing the man who dropped her off at Blessed Sacrament.
“There are certain places where you can drop a child off,” said McCracken, “but what our detectives will do is try to determine where the child has been since it was last seen by CPS.”
Bradley, who has been at the church for 35 years, said he asked if the man, who he only described as weather-beaten, would like to give his name but said he told him he “wanted nothing to do with this.” And as the priest understands it, there are laws that protect a person who drops a baby off in a safe place.
“I’m just grateful that he did the right thing,” said Bradley. “It could have been far worse. We have Dumpsters out back. That baby could have ended up in a Dumpster.”
In New York state, the law is known as the Abandoned Infant Protection Act. It allows a parent to abandon a newborn baby up to 30 days old anonymously and without fear of prosecution, but only if the baby is abandoned in a safe manner. In other words, the child must be left with an appropriate person or in a suitable location.
McCracken said it is too early in the investigation to know who the man was or how he is involved.
Davis’ attorney, Jim Martin, said Saturday afternoon that he had only just heard that Madison had been found and that Davis most likely did not know yet. He said that Davis has not retracted her statement that she is not the baby’s mother, even in the face of the fingerprint match.
“It’s pretty clear what the truth is,” said Martin. “She’s not saying anything. You can draw your own conclusions.”
It’s also unclear if any interested parties are going to seek custody of the child. Davis is in the midst of a neglect proceeding, so she wouldn’t be able to seek custody right now anyway, Martin said.
“We haven’t gotten into that or discussed it yet,” he said. “It’s not a lack of interest. It’s just so premature that it hasn’t been discussed.”
Martin said that the baby being found safe confirms his client’s position.
“It shows the baby was never in any real danger,” he said. “The fact that my client left the baby with someone in some place doesn’t mean that the baby was being treated badly. You’re just responsible with who you leave your child with.”
Bradley said he’s not anxious to learn who the man was who showed up at the rectory door Saturday. He’s afraid to scare off anyone else who feels they have to abandon a child but want to do so in a safe way.
“She was a beautiful little baby girl, a beautiful baby,” he said. “[Paramedics] were feeding her, and she just smiled, just beautiful. So I’m glad the man came. I’m a little bit emotional, but I am glad he came. At least he brought her here, where we could get help.”