Teen may seek custody of discarded Meade baby

January 17, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

An Annapolis teen-ager said yesterday that he wants custody of the infant tossed from the window of a third-floor Meade Village apartment Saturday if the child is his.

"Yeah, I would take it," said Dwayne McGhee, 17, who believes he might be the father.

Mr. McGhee said he had a sexual relationship last spring with Michelle Elizabeth Savage, who police say is the baby's mother. Ms. Savage, also 17, lives in an apartment in the 1800 block of Meade Village Circle, above the one where Mr. McGhee visited his father and stepmother.

The baby's mother was charged Sunday as an adult with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse. She is being held without bail at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center and is scheduled for a bail hearing today. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison.

Mr. McGhee said that he had not spoken with her in several months and that she never told him she was pregnant. When he heard about the baby, he told his father and stepmother that he believed he was the child's father.

Mr. McGhee lives in the Robinwood community with his mother, Vivian Franklin, and his 19-month-old son, Dwayne Jr. Ms. Franklin said she has custody of Dwayne Jr. and is helping to rear him. She said she does not want to see the newborn end up in state custody.

"He is very concerned," Ms. Franklin said of her son. "I want my grandchild."

The state Department of Social Services has the legal authority to take the child but could give the child to a relative, said lawyer Terrence Nolan of Glen Burnie.

Ms. Savage told police she gave birth Saturday in her family's apartment and threw the baby out her third-floor window, according to charging documents. She knew the baby was alive because it was crying, and she told police, "I thought the baby was going to die," the documents say.

The baby fell 18 feet and rolled down a grassy knoll, coming to rest on a storm grate between two buildings in the low-income housing project.

Two Meade Village girls on their way to a store found the naked infant, with the umbilical cord still attached, about 3:15 p.m. on the unseasonably warm day. It was 60 degrees.

"We heard something," said Dutchess Neal, 13.

As she and Chanitra Wilson, 15, walked toward the sound of crying, they realized that the sounds were coming from a baby and were scared.

"There was a bloody rag near there. The baby had nothing on, just blood, scratches and dirt," Chanitra said.

The baby was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center with five skull fractures. Still unnamed, the girl was in stable condition yesterday, hospital officials said.

Michelle's neighbors said yesterday that they didn't know she was pregnant. They said the stocky girl had gained weight in recent months and had started wearing baggy clothes. They also said she complained about being tired. Police documents describe her as 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds at the time of her arrest.

Members of Ms. Savage's family said they did not want to comment.

Neighbors said the Meade Senior High School 11th-grader was quiet, nice and kept to herself. After school, she came home and took care of her sisters' children.

"I never really saw a wild half of her," said Angela Fichter, 18, who was in a child development class last year with Ms. Savage.

"Sweet, nice, she didn't have any enemies, just not the type you'd think would do something like this. She was always doing her work and into the books. All the teachers liked her. "There were nights during the summer when we'd sit out there and talk," Angela said, pointing to the steps and parking lot curb. "She sat there, but she didn't talk much."

Neighbors said they felt sorry for Ms. Savage and that they think she must have been frightened and unable to discuss her pregnancy with family or friends.

"I think it was a terrible thing that happened. I think that girl must have been upset, afraid or something to have done that," said Bettie McGhee, Dwayne's stepmother. "I can't see [how] anybody in their right mind could drop a baby out the window."

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