|Birth: ||Jan. 2, 1988|
|Death: ||Jan. 2, 1988|
Meriden police to again honor baby
December 30, 2010
Meriden Record Journal
MERIDEN - The thick bed of leaves rustles and crunches as retired Meriden Police Chief Robert Kosienski Sr. returns to the spot that 23 years ago launched an investigation that was to become one of the most troubling and memorable of his career.
On a bright late-December day the chill of the wind cuts deep. It's 34 degrees, much warmer than the frigid morning a passerby found a blueeyed, blond newborn boy here, abandoned to die from exposure by a forked tree in the parking lot across from AGC Inc. on Evansville Road. "He could have been something, someone with potential," Kosienski said. "In fact, I know he would have been." Local clergy named the boy David Paul , translated from Scripture to mean "God's beloved little man." Members of the Meriden Police Department adopted him as their own, vowing never to forget the child by staging a service and later memorials at his grave each year, around the anniversary of his discovery.
This year's memorial is set for Monday at 10 a.m. at David Paul 's gravesite high on a hill in Walnut Grove Cemetery. The public and all child-care service providers are invited to attend.
At the time, 23 years ago, the patch of land on Evansville Road was clear and used as a parking lot. Now overgrown with dried leaves and brush, with a chain across the entrance, the lonely spot is a reminder of what must have occurred in the overnight hours of Jan. 2, 1988.
"The mother must have been through some type of trauma to do this," said Kosienski, who was police chief at the time. "Think about it: you carry a baby for nine months and then leave it?"
The circumstances surrounding the death have vexed local investigators for more than two decades. Kosienski doesn't think the mother acted alone; she must have had help, a driver, maybe someone who forced her to abandon the child.
Medical examiners determined that the baby was full term and likely alive when he was left by the tree, wrapped only in a blanket on a January night when the temperature hovered near zero.
By the time Kosienski arrived at the scene that day, the baby had been taken away. But the case would leave a mark on him and the officers who investigated the child's death. He retired as chief in 2001. "I can't drive by there without looking over and remembering what we found," he said.
Jeffry Cossette, the present chief, was assigned to the case that morning. "This has been one of the most frustrating cases of my career," Cossette admitted last week. "It's very difficult to see an infant left out in the cold. The mother must have panicked."
As the head of the Youth Division in 1988, former Detective Keith McCurdy investigated the case and helped arrange a funeral for the child when it became apparent that the boy's identity and the circumstances of his death wouldn't be known for quite some time.
"You go through a range of emotions when you see these kinds of things in law enforcement," McCurdy said. "You're exposed to a lot of things that leave a scar. This case scarred all the detectives who worked on it. Everyone here has been touched by it."
Local residents and businesses donated all the items and services needed to give the child a proper burial, from at plot at Walnut Grove, to his burial gown, to the red wagon that officers pulled to carry his tiny casket to its final resting place.
Each year since, members of the department have organized a memorial service for David Paul with the help of local churches. Cossette's executive secretary, Shawn Thompkins, has seen to the details for nearly a decade. The department's Honor Guard, along with other officers, members of the public and members of area churches regularly attend. Although their numbers have dwindled in recent years, for those involved in the case the commitment to honor the boy hasn't waned.
In 2000, Kosienski was asked to recall the circumstances of the baby's death before a state legislative committee considering the passage of a "Safe Haven" law allowing mothers to leave their babies at a hospital emergency room without fear of prosecution.
The law passed that year with the help of David Paul 's story. Women are now legally allowed to turn their babies 30 days old or younger over to any emergency room without having to leave their name or being prosecuted, as long as the child has not been abused or neglected.
The state Department of Children and Families says that, to date, 12 children have been saved under the law, which took effect in October of 2000. One baby was dropped off at St. Francis Hospital on Christmas Day in 2007.
"Almost without exception, these children have been adopted," said DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt. "There are some fantastic, beautiful families that are together because these children were given a second chance by their mothers through this law."
In 2000, Kosienski also sought out Federal Bureau of Investigation scientists after attending a conference in Washington on missing and exploited children that highlighted improvements in DNA techniques, which he hopes could help finally identify the baby.
So far, there have been no concrete leads to bring investi- gators any closer to finding out the child's identity or how he came to be found in a parking lot on a frigid winter morning. Detective Sgt. Mark Walerysiak still works on the case, said Detective Bill Grodzki, who also serves in the department's Special Crimes Unit. "The actual expert on that is Mark himself," Grodzki said. "He took an interest in the case and has done considerable research on it. The case is definitely open and we still throw things around. He's still actively investigating and rides by the spot where the baby was found often."
Walerysiak is on vacation until the Monday service.
Along with several other officers and members of the public, Kosienski has attended David Paul 's memorial every year. Now 76, he vows to continue as long as his health will allow. McCurdy has missed only a few due to his job at the Chief State's Attorney's Office. "We unofficially adopted that child. He represents all the children who have been abused," McCurdy said. "He was abandoned once; it's important that he not be abandoned again." In case of bad weather, the memorial service will be held Tuesday. Anyone who may have information on the case is asked to call the Meriden Police Department Youth Division at (203) 630-6234. For more information on the state's Safe Haven law, call 211.
Beloved Little Man
Walnut Grove Cemetery
New Haven County
Created by: Bettie
Record added: Jan 06, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 63827887