Mom arrested after dead baby found

August 13, 2009 6:23:35 AM PDT
Overnight, Oakland police found and detained a mother who they believe was on the run with her three-year-old daughter. The search for that woman started after officers found the body of the woman's recently born baby.

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Police were called to the woman's home, after neighbors reported a foul odor coming from the bottom unit of a Fruitvale District duplex.

Investigators say they found an infant inside who had been dead for some time. Witnesses say they saw a mattress on the floor and lots of blood and a search began for 25-year-old Mele Penitani. A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, talked about Penitani.

"Something happened, because the tenant was pregnant, and then last month, she didn't look like she was pregnant anymore. And I saw no baby and I didn't hear a baby. That's what made me the past few days I could get to sleep because of the smell. It seeps up through our closet door, and the smell was just awful," said the neighbor.

Police say Penitani has been taken into custody but does not currently face any charges. However police will continue to investigate. Her 3-year-old child is said to be safe and will be held in protective custody. Meanwhile, an autopsy is scheduled for later today to determine how the infant died.

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