April 18, 2014

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Baby found on doorstep

Investigators skeptical newborn linked to missing pregnant woman

Joe Milicia
The Associated Press
 CANTON, Ohio — A couple who found a newborn baby in a basket on their porch, 45 miles from where a pregnant woman vanished, believes it is more likely the baby came from someone familiar with the wife’s work as a nurse than from the missing woman.
The infant girl was sleeping in a wicker basket, her umbilical cord tied off with a rubber band, when Don Redman and his wife Sue returned from dinner Monday evening to their rural home south of Wooster. Don Redman speculated that the baby was left by someone who knew his wife’s background as a nurse and board member at a local free clinic.
“My wife has been a school nurse and has dealt with young females in a confidential manner over a number of years,” Redman said. “We don’t feel at this point that there’s any connection (with the missing woman).”
A DNA sample was taken Tuesday from the infant and given to Stark County authorities investigating the disappearance of Jessie Davis, said Thomas Maurer, sheriff in neighboring Wayne County.
Maurer also did not believe there is a connection between the full-term baby and the missing woman. He said a doctor determined that the baby was less than 24 hours old.
“We’re using every caution we can” to identify the baby or eliminate the possibility that she is related to Davis, who is due July 3 with a baby girl, Maurer said.
Davis, 26, was last heard from Wednesday when she spoke to her mother by phone from her home in nearby North Canton in northeast Ohio.
Maurer said the baby found was dressed in a sleeper. The wicker basket contained a blanket, a can of baby formula and a bottle containing formula, but there was no note, he said.
She was taken to Wooster Community Hospital, where DNA from the girl was collected using a mouth swab, said Maurer, who said he drove the sample to investigators in Stark County.
At a late afternoon news conference, Stark County authorities reiterated that they had no suspects in Davis’ disappearance.
Chief Deputy Rick Perez said his office had not done a DNA test to see if the baby was Davis’ and declined to comment on whether they would conduct a test.
“At this time, we’re still continuing our investigation with the Wayne County sheriff’s office, and the rest of it’s part of an investigation I’m not at liberty to speak about,” Perez said.
The sheriff’s department released a surveillance camera photo of Davis pushing a shopping cart with 2-year-old son Blake at an Acme supermarket in North Canton. The time on the camera reads 6:24 p.m. Wednesday, about three hours before her mother last spoke to her.
Bobby Cutts Jr., the father of Davis’ son and unborn girl, had an amicable relationship with her, said a fellow officer who accused investigators of mishandling the case.
The 30-year-old Cutts, a Canton police officer, is cooperating in the search for Davis, authorities say. Cutts is devastated by her disappearance and is a good father who shared parenting duties with Davis, said John Miller, president of the Canton patrolman’s union.
Cutts juggled parenthood with the demands of his patrol job on the midnight shift, Miller said.
“He’s a good officer. He’s got no problems at work. He treats people well,” Miller said.
Cutts, who is estranged from his wife with whom has at least one child, has declined comment and is now on leave from his job.
In 1998, he pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation after a former girlfriend accused him of breaking a door jamb and forcing his way into their home, causing her to fear for her safety, according to a police report from nearby Jackson Township.
Authorities searched Cutts’ home in Canton in northeast Ohio over the weekend and again Monday night.
Davis, who planned to name her unborn daughter Chloe, was reported missing on Friday when her mother, Patricia Porter, went to Davis’ house to check on her and found her grandson, Blake, alone, wearing a dirty diaper in a home with furniture askew. A pool of bleach was on the bedroom floor, and the contents of Davis’ purse were scattered in the kitchen.
Blake told investigators: “Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in the rug.”
Her cell phone and a comforter were missing.
Davis’ family has declined to talk about her relationship with Cutts. Her father, Ned, held back tears Tuesday in an interview, saying he’s trying to block out all emotion and focus on his daughter’s safe return.
“I’m a dad that wants his daughter back,” he said.
Miller accused the Stark County Sheriff’s Office of waiting too long to retrieve Davis’ cell phone records. The sheriff’s department has not discussed whether any clues have been found in the records and, during a Tuesday news conference, Perez gave no answers to repeated questions about the delay in checking them.
Cutts is active in the community and coaches youth baseball, basketball and football, Miller said. He feels he is being wrongfully scrutinized in the media.
“Watch anything on TV, and they’ve got him guilty,” Miller said.
About two years after his conviction in the disorderly conduct case, Cutts was hired by the Canton Police Department.