"Dear baby, I'm sorry what your mother did to you."
This was written in cursive magenta letters on a white sheet of paper attached to the side of a trash bin in an alley behind St. John's United Methodist Church in Charles Village.
There had been more than a dozen more like it - unsigned prayers and admonishments, expressions of anger and sadness - accompanied by drawings of trash bins, colored in bright blue and green. Some words were misspelled, some grammar fractured, but the meaning was not lost.
"Babys are not to be here!!"
A baby was found here, a boy, in the blue steel trash bin the night of Oct. 6, after his mother went to the hospital with abdominal pains and doctors concluded she had given birth. Police said the mother eventually confessed to having the baby in the bin off East 27th Street between St. Paul and Charles streets.
Police spokesman Donny Moses said autopsy results have not come back and a cause of death has not been determined. But he said the state medical examiner's office has found that the baby was alive when he was born.
That means this case might be a homicide. Did the mother simply abandon a breathing newborn and leave him to die in the trash? Did she think he was already dead? Or was the boy killed in some other way?
Police haven't released the mother's name. We know from St. John's pastor, the Rev. Drew Phoenix, that she is from Westminster and was living in St. John's basement while training with a group of volunteers from the Church of the Brethren in New Windsor.
Phoenix didn't return phone calls over the past two days, and residents say they haven't seen the group at the church in the past weeks. Who drew the pictures and wrote the notes?
And who took them down over the weekend? And why?
The posters put into writing what many of us had thought but didn't say out loud. We didn't need a bulletin board to remind us of this tragedy; we didn't need it removed to shield us from it, either.
"The baby in this case was the victim because she [threw] a human being in the trash even though it was a stillborn," one note said. "This lady had many choices even though she was homeless could have went to an hospital, or maybe the free clinic. Yes she had the baby at a young age and now her baby died at birth she panicked but it wasn't any reason to throw a poorest baby in a trash can."
Someone else wrote this:
"I think the mother is the criminal because she should have went to the hospital. ... She should have took the baby dead or alive. She was really thinking about self. Also, she shouldn't have gotten pregnant if she's homeless and can't stand on her own. Where's the dad?"
"Dear baby. I hope that you are in a better place. Although you don't get the chance to see the world, your still a human and your mother would have took care of you. Well, have fun in heaven."