The state medical examiner's office yesterday determined that police found a deer's stomach -- not an infant -- in a West Baltimore trash bin on Sunday.
The mass of tissue was found about 4:30 p.m. by a resident taking trash out to a can in the 700 block of Druid Park Lake Drive. Police examined the remains and announced that the body of a newborn or stillborn baby enclosed in its fetal sac had been found.
The discovery touched off an investigation that sent detectives into the neighborhood asking residents for the names of pregnant women in the area. Some residents provided names of "likely suspects," police said.
Yesterday, the investigation came to a screeching halt with the news that there was nothing human about the remains.
"It turned out to be the stomach of a small deer. Someone had disemboweled the animal to get the meat and then threw the viscera in the trash can," said Gary Dunnigan of the Baltimore homicide unit.
Homicide Detective Carolyn Gillespie said paramedics had checked the object unsuccessfully for a pulse and had told her it appeared to be a fetus.
"They had strong suspicions it was a fetus still in the embryo sac. They said, 'Look, you can see its head,'" Detective Gillespie said.
To keep the evidence intact, the object was not removed from the trash can. The entire can, contents intact, was impounded as evidence, police said.
But a medical examiner realized he was dealing with deer remains after the viscera were removed from the trash can and spread out on an examining table, police said.
"This time, you can say that nobody threw a baby away. I wish they were just deer innards every time," Detective Gillespie said.
City police occasionally find stillborn and newborn infants in trash cans. That happened most recently Thursday, when the decomposing body of a newborn girl was found in a trash chute at the Lafayette Courts public housing complex in East Baltimore.
Homicide investigators said Sunday's incident was not the first time deer innards had been mistaken for a human fetus. A similar discovery was made in another city trash can last week, but police were able to determine quickly that the remains came from a deer, not a human.