Nearly four years ago, a family heard a “weird sound” coming from the woods near their house in northern Georgia.
They thought it might have been a wild animal, but the family’s two teenage daughters were convinced it sounded like a baby crying and “couldn’t let it go,” authorities said. It was the middle of the night and a severe storm was about the hit the area, but the daughters convinced their dad to go investigate the sound with them.
Their search led to the discovery of a newborn tied up in a plastic bag and left in a remote area of the woods to “suffocate and die” on June 6, 2019, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
The infant — now called Baby India — was rescued and survived.
“Back then I called it divine intervention and I truly believe that still today,” Sheriff Ron Freeman said during a news conference posted to the sheriff’s office’s YouTube.
Now, nearly four years later, the child’s mother has been arrested, the sheriff’s office said in a news release on May 19. Karima Jiwani, 40, is facing charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, reckless abandonment and first-degree cruelty to children.
It was unclear as of May 21 if she had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
Finding baby India
Evidence suggests Jiwani gave birth to Baby India in a vehicle, Freeman said during the news conference.
She then drove around with the baby for a “significant period of time” before she tied the baby in a plastic bag and “threw her into the woods to die,” Freeman said.
Investigators believe Jiwani was alone when she left the baby in the woods, Freeman said.
Freeman explained that Georgia has a safe haven law. It allows a parent to leave a baby “with a staff member or volunteer of a medical facility, fire station, or police station if the child is no more than thirty days old” with no criminal consequences, according to the state’s Department of Human Services.
But Freeman said Jiwani “made no effort to leave this child at any safe place where there was any remote possibility of her being located.”
“This child was wrapped up to suffocate in a plastic bag, thrown 20 yards in the woods in an isolated area with one house nearby,” Freeman said. “That family happened to arrive home when they weren’t supposed to and happened to go back outside because it was going to rain to empty their car when they had earlier decided they were going to do it the next morning. That’s divine intervention. This baby’s supposed to be here.”
Freeman said calls poured in from people wanting to foster, adopt or help baby India after she was found.
But the few leads investigators got on the case didn’t amount to much, Freeman said.
Then, 10 months ago, investigators used DNA to identify the baby’s father, which began an “even more concerted investigation,” according to Freeman.
Investigators were soon able to identify Jiwani as the “birth parent” using DNA.
“She was fittingly arrested by Deputy Terry Roper who helped rescue Baby India nearly 4 years ago,” the sheriff’s office said in the release.
Freeman said there is no evidence to suggest the father knew of the pregnancy or the baby’s abandonment. He said deputies are investigating Jiwani’s “history of unknown or concealed pregnancies.”
Freeman said the child is “now prospering” and is “happy and healthy.”
“I was telling my team I said, ‘Man, isn’t it going to be cool to watch this little girl grow up and see her do some great things, in spite of these beginnings’,” he said.
Baby in carjacked vehicle is found abandoned on porch of home, Nebraska cops say
19-year-old’s murder remained a mystery for nearly 40 years — until now, officials say
Missing girl’s remains identified 8 years after they were found near Texas oilfield
Cold case went unsolved for over a decade. Now, former NC soldier charged with murder