A second suspect has been arrested after a premature baby was found abandoned in a tent in the woods of Manchester, New Hampshire, on a night when temperatures were well below freezing, according to police.
Manchester police announced Wednesday morning that 45-year-old George Theberge had been arrested and charged with felony tampering with witnesses, reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child. They did not say when or where he was taken into custody or when he might appear in court.
Theberge is believed to have been with the baby's mother, Alexandra Eckersley, when she gave birth in the tent on Dec. 26, according to police. The pair is accused of leaving the baby alone in the tent for more than an hour before police found the child. Temperatures were around 15 degrees that night.
Eckersley, the daughter of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and longtime Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley, is facing charges including felony assault and endangering the welfare of a child after the baby was found moving but struggling to breathe in a tent at a homeless encampment. She is also charged with lying to authorities.
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She was initially held on $3,000 bail following the incident on Dec. 26 but has since been released, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.
According to authorities, Eckersley called 911 around 12:30 a.m. to say she had given birth in the woods near the West Side Ice Arena, and then led officers in the wrong direction, investigators said, because she and her boyfriend didn't want to give the location of the tent, in an encampment for the unhoused, where she was living. Asked why she hadn't taken the baby with her, she said, "What do they tell when a plane goes down? Save yourself first," according to an affidavit filed in court.
Manchester police and fire, along with American Medical Response, searched in the area that Eckersley initially directed them to, but did not find the baby, according to Manchester police. Two first responders said Eckersley appeared to be on drugs, but Eckersley said she hadn't used for two days, according to the affidavit.
Eventually, she gave the location of where her son was, and he was retrieved — an hour and 13 minutes after Eckersley called 911, officials said. She told them she believed the baby was born between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on the night of Christmas.
She said she hadn't known she was pregnant, though a confidante said Eckersley had told her a week earlier she was pregnant, and about four or five months along, investigators said in the documents.
The boy, believed to be born three months early, was 4.4 lbs. and taken to a hospital, officials have said. He survived at least 73 minutes in the 15-degree weather, even while a state police dog was brought in to help find what officials believed would be a body.
A Manchester police representative previously told NBC10 Boston that the baby boy was "doing well" at last check.
Eckersley was said to be released on bail on conditions that she have no direct or indirect contact with the baby, anyone under age 18, and she live in either a sober living facility, with a parent or at a residence approved by the state or court.
Eckersley's family released a statement saying that they "had no prior knowledge of Allie's pregnancy."
"It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances," the family said. "We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock."
The family went on to thank the first responders who rescued the baby and the medical workers helping to ensure his safety, adding that a guardianship petition is being filed "so that we may receive information and have decision making with respect to Allie's son."
The family also explained that Eckersley has suffered from mental illnesses all her life, and that since she has become an adult, her parents had less recourse to help. The statement also referred to the "broken" mental health care system in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
"We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues," the statement read. "We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out."