Detectives investigating the case of the mystery newborn discovered at a Heywood beauty spot in Rochdale last month have revealed that she was born with a defect that could explain why she was left. Her body was found on April 4th and she was quickly named by sympathetic officers, and much work is being done to find out what happened to her and where she came from. Police have recently issued a statement to say that Pearl was found with a congenital birth defect and was missing two of her ribs, but they do not know if this contributed either to her death or her being abandoned. Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Hughes, said: "A post-mortem examination by a forensic pathologist and paediatric pathologist has revealed that baby Pearl had a congenital defect, which is that she had two ribs missing. There are any number of reasons as to why that could have been. We don’t know if it contributed to her passing away before or after birth. And equally we don’t know if the mother or parents would have necessarily known if she had that defect."
The discovery could bring the detectives a step closer to unravelling the mystery behind her discovery. Pearl, which means precious, was found at 7am on April 4 by a dog walker, close to the River Roch. Her DNA has since been checked with the national database, containing samples of genetic data from people convicted of crimes or who have come into contact with the police. There are thousands of potential matches, and police are focusing on speaking to women in the Greater Manchester area who fit the DNA profile. Pearl was believed to be white, but ethnicity testing has since suggested that there may be a mixed racial heritage somewhere in the baby girl's family. Little is known about the child, DCI Hughes spoke on the difficulty of establishing what she looked like: "Pearl was around the age of a fully developed baby in terms of the pregnancy process, capable of being born alive. Police have been unable to establish what colour hair or eyes Pearl had. It may be that she was born alive and lived for a short time, minutes, hours, days, we don’t know. Equally it could be that Pearl wasn’t born alive. She could have been stillborn."
Hughes also spoke of the emotional impact the investigation was having on his team of 20 officers. "The team is full of mums and dads and it has affected them and me. It is a tragic case. The mum has probably been through a terrible ordeal. We are keen to know what has happened to mum and baby. I am more determined than ever to solve it." The force are working on a suggestion from behavioural psychologist Dr Amy McKee, that posits that the mother might have been the victim of abuse, rape or incest and might have struggled to bond with the baby. "If mum was to come forward, or someone was to give us her identity, we are really opened-minded as to what she has to say. We are really keen to get her some support."
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 4810 or 07387 705768 quoting incident number 368 of 04/04/18. Reports can also be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.