Mother arrested for abandoning newborn baby in Mesa in 2016

Mesa police arrested Maricela Perez for allegedly abandoning her baby back in March 2016.

A woman admitted she left her newborn baby in front of a Mesa house in March 2016 because she was afraid she'd be questioned about the child's possibly having drugs in its system, police said.

Mesa police arrested Maricela Perez, 24, last week after an active arrest warrant out of Pima County triggered a hit in the Combined DNA Index System used by police.

RELATED: Police working to track down parents of abandoned baby girl in Mesa

Perez told investigators she gave birth to the baby girl in her bathtub on March 8, 2016 and originally planned on dropping the baby at a local fire station but changed her mind out of fear. 

Fire stations are one of several locations designated as baby safe havens under Arizona law. 

Perez then abandoned the baby in front of a home near 9th Place and Alma School Road, telling police she didn't want the baby and was afraid she'd be questioned about the newborn possibly having meth in her system. 

She said she left the baby in front of a house with its lights out so nobody would see her.

The baby was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with hypothermia and hypoglycemia.

Police say she told investigators she knew what she did was was wrong.

The police report also said Perez didn't want the baby because she did not believe her current boyfriend was the father.

Under Arizona's Safe Haven Law, a mother can leave a newborn baby at a designated location within the first 72 hours of the child's life, no questions asked, as long as the baby is unharmed. 

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that could lead someone there and we want to get that message out," said Det. Nik Rasheta, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department, "that it's always worth going to the safe haven program first. No questions will be asked and that's why it exists." 

Perez is now facing one count of child abuse and another count of child endangerment.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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