HOUSTON – The discovery of an abandoned child in Houston on Friday night prompted felony child abuse charges against a local woman.
Cora Lynn Watkins, 25, of Houston, has been charged with abandonment of a child under the age of six and felony abuse of a child. Police were waiting Monday for Watkins to be released from the hospital before serving her with both warrants.
“This is the second time for her to be charged with something like this,” said Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles. “She was also the person charged with abandoning a child at the Salvation Army a couple of years ago.”
In the most recent incident, kids playing in a backyard on Pittsboro Street heard cries of a baby coming from a storage shed and told adults. Police discovered a newborn baby boy in the shed about 7 p.m. and immediately took it to Trace Regional Hospital Emergency Room.
“The baby was very young, and we have been told it is in good condition,” said Voyles. “I’m not sure how old the baby is, but it was delivered recently.”
Voyles said Watkins was taken to the hospital with complications due to the delivery. He said the baby was transferred to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
“This incident is still under investigation,” said Voyles. “I’m just thankful those kids heard that baby and immediately told someone. This could have been a very different situation.”
This is the second baby abandonment in Houston in recent years involving Watkins.
A baby less than a week old was found abandoned at the Salvation Army in downtown Houston in October 2010.
In that case a Hispanic baby boy was found in a car seat behind the Salvation Army on West Washington Street about 6:15 p.m., shortly after a cold rain had moved through the area. A man dropping off a TV at the Salvation Army spotted the baby and alerted law enforcement dining in a restaurant across the street.
That baby was taken to Trace Regional in good condition.
Voyles said that child was taken from Watkins and placed in foster care. It was later returned to Watkins’ family.
“We have worked this case all weekend and we still have questions we are trying to answer,” Voyles said Monday. “We are asking anyone with information or details about this situation to contact the police department.”
In Mississippi newborns can be legally dropped off at local police departments, fire departments or hospitals. It is illegal to abandon any child of any age and conviction for child abandonment is a felony.