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Police: Body 'consistent with that of a child' discovered

Police: Body 'consistent with that of a child' discovered

The FBI, along with city and state police, discovered a body in the missing infant case after a dig involving over a dozen officers and aquatic gear.
Police: Body 'consistent with that of a child' discovered
Police could be seen digging near an apartment building they had searched Wednesday, as a search for a missing infant continued.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY -- Police recovered a body "consistent with that of a child" in their search for missing 4-month-old Rayen Puleski, police confirmed at a press conference Thursday evening.

Police found the body behind 766 State St. They offered no identification of the body and no suspects are in custody, police said.

The FBI joined the search for the missing baby on Thursday, as more than a dozen agents and city police swarmed the area surrounding the State Street apartment building.

Prosecutors from the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office also were seen examining the premises.

Authorities could be seen digging a hole behind two rows of unmarked cars on the property, after cordoning off the area with crime scene tape and police vehicles.

An FBI agent in aquatic gear was seen behind the property, where there is a small creek.

 

City police began investigating the disappearance of the infant on Tuesday after receiving a call from Child Protective Services. Later that day, they issued a press release calling for public cooperation in finding Rayen and his mother, Heaven.

Police caught up with Heaven Puleski midday Wednesday by the Days Inn on Nott Terrace, and she was questioned throughout the day. Her son was not with her.

After being questioned by police, she was taken to Ellis Hospital for "detox," family members said.

Police spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing said Thursday police remained with Puleski, but she was not in custody and no charges have been filed. When asked during the press conference whether she was in the hospital or will face charges, Dearing said he could not comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Police had searched the 766 State St. apartment Wednesday night, an effort that included the use of cadaver dogs. But that search ended by Thursday morning.

The State Street building is where Puleski had been living recently, according to police and Lisa Dutcher, Puleski's aunt. 

Previous: Police search Schenectady building for missing infant, Aug. 8, 2018

Family members indicated on Facebook Thursday that the search extended to another woman who was seen with the baby on July 17. That woman had been found before 11 a.m. Thursday and was brought in for questioning, family members said.

According to Dutcher, she and her daughter, Jessica, located the woman on Albany Street before she jumped in a truck, whose plates Dutcher called in to 911. Police confirmed that they located an individual by the Summit Towers, but would not confirm any further details.

 

Puleski in 2016: Gloversville escapee caught in Schenectady

Dutcher also claims she met with police and Puleski on Monday after she called 911 for police to check on the status of the baby at the 766 State St. apartment. Dutcher said that Puleski assured her and the police that the baby was "fine," and, according to Dutcher, police subsequently left the scene.

Dearing denied that any such meeting occurred when asked about it during the press conference. 

Just before Dearing spoke, the family held its own press conference. 

Dutcher, surrounded by family members, including Puleski's brother, Tony Palleschi (who spells his name differently from his sister) and cousins, argued that police did not keep the family in the loop during the investigation. 

The family was visibly distraught throughout the search on Thursday evening, and repeatedly complained that they were not informed of any details by police, including when a coroner van came and left.

"What I wanna know, is how come we had to find this out on social media?" Dutcher asked reporters. "How come we did not get any phone call from any detective or Child Protective [Services] when we were the only ones searching and doing our own investigation to find this baby?"

When asked what the department's protocols were for notifying next of kin regarding a fatality, Dearing said that because an autopsy had not yet been conducted, the department was not in a position to notify family members. 

The father of Puleski's infant, according to Dutcher, has not been reachable. Palleschi said his sister is estranged from her father and that their mother has passed away. 

Dutcher said that she has barely been able to sleep or eat while launching an extensive social media campaign.

Police were not able to say when the autopsy will be conducted or if any charges will be filed. Dearing said the FBI had been coordinating with city and state police in the search “from the beginning.” 

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