Mother arrested for abandoning infant in Mesa in 2016

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Maricela Rocio Perez. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Maricela Rocio Perez. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Maricela Rocio Perez. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Maricela Rocio Perez. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
A Mesa woman found an infant in a baby carrier in her yard. (Source: Roseanne McCulloh) A Mesa woman found an infant in a baby carrier in her yard. (Source: Roseanne McCulloh)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A woman has been arrested after police said she left a newborn baby in a car seat in a front yard in Mesa in 2016.

Maricela Rocio Perez, 24, was taken into custody on Friday morning.

The baby, roughly 2 to 3 hours old, was found in the area of Alma School Road and Ninth Place on March 8, 2016. The infant still had the umbilical cord attached, police said.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Newborn baby found in Mesa yard; police looking for parents (March 9, 2016)]

The girl had hypoglycemia and hypothermia. She was taken to the hospital and was treated.

Police said blood was taken from the car seat carrier and was tested for DNA. The investigation went cold until there was hit in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The DNA belonged to 24-year-old Perez, police said.

[RAW VIDEO: Mother who police said abandoned baby faces judge]

During the interview with police, officers said she admitted to giving birth to the girl in a bathtub in March. She said she was heading toward the fire station near Alma School and Rio Salado Pkwy because she couldn't explain being pregnant to her current boyfriend because it wasn't his child, court documents said

Perez admitted she knew the fire station offers a Safe Baby Haven, but was concerned about being asked questions regarding the baby and that the baby may have had meth in her system, according to court documents.

She said she dropped the baby off in front of the house when the lights were off and then returned to her apartment where her other two children were sleeping, police said.

Robert Oliver says he was the first to find the hours-old infant in his mother's front yard. "Poor baby. That's the first thought. So innocent. Why this baby? And why here?" Oliver asked.

Perez said she admitted she knew what she did was wrong, detectives said.

"We don't want people to feel embarrassed, we don't want people to feel that they're doing something wrong by leaving that baby behind. Our number one concern is to be non-judgmental and to make sure that baby is safe and healthy," said Mesa Fire Deputy Chief Forrest Smith.

Oliver's mother, Roseanna McCulloh, says her family wanted to adopt the child. So far that has not happened. 

"I'm just hoping she's been living a loving and caring life," said McCulloh.

Perez faces one count of child abuse and one count of endangerment. She made her first court appearance where the judge denied bail because she had missed court appearances in the past.

"I hope the mother does a turnaround and fights for her life and makes her life better," said McCulloh. 

[INFOGRAPHIC: Arizona Safe Baby Haven information]

[ONLINE: Arizona Safe Baby Haven Foundation]

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