SCHENECTADY — More than 24 hours after a child's body was found in a State Street backyard, there are still more questions than answers.
A body "consistent with that of a child" was found behind 766 State St. Thursday, yet police have not confirmed when an autopsy would take place to identify the child. Meanwhile, officers remained stationed in squad cars around the building, with the block between Hulett Street and Grove Place closed off by crime scene tape.
Flowers and candles were placed outside the building on Friday. Any residents entering the building had to present identification to police, as did guests.
City police Sgt. Matthew Dearing said that because of an "ongoing and active investigation," no further information could be released Friday, including whether there are any suspects or charges pending.
At a press conference Thursday night, Dearing said police began investigating the disappearance of 4-month-old Rayen Puleski after being contacted by Child Protective Services (CPS) on Tuesday. CPS inquired about the whereabouts of the infant and his mother, Heaven Puleski, police said.
Puleski, who was eventually found Wednesday near the Days Inn on Nott Terrace, was brought in for questioning. According to police and Puleski's family, the woman was recently living in the State Street apartment building.
Schenectady police would not confirm whether Puleski is a suspect. According to Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon, there is a "potential to be a crime" depending on the results of the autopsy and other elements of the investigation.
Puleski's aunt, Lisa Dutcher, said that Puleski was taken to Ellis Hospital on Thursday for "detox," and, as far as she knows, remains there.
Police squad cars were observed outside of Ellis on Thursday and Friday. McCutcheon said that the squad cars are stationed by the hospital "for a variety of reasons," and would not go into further detail about Puleski's whereabouts.
Child Protective Services did not respond to requests for comment concerning the welfare of Rayen.
Meanwhile, family members were considering holding a vigil over the weekend, according to Dutcher.
She said the family was going through a "very tough time" on Friday.
Puleski's mother died recently, while her father remains "out of the picture," according to her brother and aunt.
Dutcher described the family being extraordinarily close until the passing of her mother and Puleski's grandmother in 2013.
The aunt, who had been waging a vigorous social media campaign to locate the baby, said she was "trying to stay off the internet" on Friday. She received numerous comments online criticizing her for holding her own press conference on Thursday night, during which she and other family members criticized police for their role in the investigation and for not keeping the family informed.
“There’s a lot of nasty comments," Dutcher said Friday. "People don’t know what I’ve done and how I’ve helped Heaven."
In a public post on Facebook, Dutcher pushed back against those criticizing her for not doing more to help the baby.
"It terrible [sic.] to blame us when all we did was try to help find Rayen," the post reads. "And I've tried many times to help heaven u can't help someone who doesn't want it."