A 29-year-old woman was arrested Thursday in the death of her child more than four years after Florida detectives started investigating the discovery of the newborn floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
The case began on June 1, 2018, when a baby was found by an off-duty firefighter in the Boynton Beach Inlet in Palm Beach County, police said. Detectives checked on more than 700 babies born during that time in an effort to find the child’s parents, but were unable to generate any leads.
“The men and women in law enforcement always think they’re tough and they’ve seen it all,” said Palm Beach County Sheriff Rich Bradshaw. “But I guarantee you when you see an infant — a newborn infant, floating in the ocean that somebody has discarded like a piece of trash — it tugs at your heart.”
Forensic specialists created a profile for the newborn, who authorities named “Baby June,” and entered her DNA in CODIS, the national DNA database. No matches populated initially but a potential relative appeared as a match years later, Palm Beach County officials said at a press conference Thursday.
That match helped connect the case to a potential father, who cooperated with a police investigation, according to Brittany Christoffel, detective for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
“He knew nothing about the baby,” Christoffel said. “He knew that he had a girlfriend around that time that told him that she had been pregnant but …was thinking she perhaps had an abortion. He ended up being the father.”
That interview lead police to Arya Singh, who they confirmed to be Baby June’s mother by testing DNA through a piece of garbage, police said.
“We decided to just build this case against the mother without notifying her at all,” Christoffel said. “We were able to get search warrants for phone records for GPS data location.”
Singh was taken into custody Thursday, where Christoffel said she was interviewed and told officials she had not been aware she was pregnant prior to giving birth on May 30, 2018. A second DNA sample taken from Singh confirmed her to be Baby June’s mother.
“She said that when the baby was born, she wasn’t sure if the baby was alive or or dead…by the time the baby went into the inlet she was already deceased,” Christoffel said.
Officials believe Singh acted alone and is the sole suspect in the case. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said the state plans to charge Singh with first-degree murder.
“Because it’s now a pending case, that’s about all I could say right now,” Aronberg said. “But I want to thank Sheriff Bradshaw and his amazing team…they just continue to do outstanding work using advanced technologies to be able to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions here in our county. We’re proud to be a part of that.”
County inmate records show Singh was booked into jail at 10:41 am. Thursday morning. She is expected to have a first appearance in court Friday.
It is unclear whether she has retained an attorney. A phone call to Singh’s family by NBC News was not immediately returned Thursday.