BOSTON (AP) — A mother and her boyfriend are "blaming each other" for the death of a little girl who was found dead inside a trash bag on a Boston Harbor beach this summer, a state official said Friday, after a monthslong campaign to learn the child's identity.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, said he has been briefed on the investigation into the death of a girl who came to be known as Baby Doe.
"They feel they have the perpetrators of this crime," DeLeo said during a news conference.
"It appears as though it was a situation of the boyfriend who was involved and apparently, I think, mother and boyfriend sort of blaming each other in terms of who harmed the child."
DeLeo confirmed the identity of the child as Bella Bond. He could not immediately confirm the name of the child's mother. He said the boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, 35, was being treated at a Boston hospital for drug issues. He also said authorities are "in the process of taking a witness or two before the grand jury."
Gov. Charlie Baker said the state child protection agency had been involved with the girl's family for several months in 2013, but that the case was then closed.
The discovery of the girl's body sparked a massive social media campaign. Within two weeks, a compose image of the chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed girl had reached an estimated 47 million people on Facebook.
Police searched a Boston apartment Thursday after receiving a tip.
The girl, named Baby Doe by investigators, was estimated to be 4 years old. Her body was found June 25 inside a trash bag on Deer Island in Winthrop by a woman walking a dog.
Police immediately appealed to the public for help in identifying the girl. Using photos of her remains, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created a composite image of what the girl might have looked like when she was alive.
Within two weeks of the discovery of her body, the image of the chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed girl had tugged on heartstrings around the world. By early July, the image had been liked on the Massachusetts State Police Facebook page by more than 50,000 people and shared more than 615,000 times, reaching an estimated 47 million people.
Authorities set up an anonymous text line and were flooded with tips. The tips led authorities to check on the well-being of dozens of little girls but did not lead them to Baby Doe's family.
Despite the widespread publicity, investigators had been frustrated for months trying to figure out who she was and how she died. There were no obvious signs of trauma to her body. An autopsy performed by the state medical examiner's office did not immediately determine the manner or cause of her death.
Police chased down tips from around the world, but experts determined pollen on the girl's blanket and leggings and in her hair came from trees found in New England.
Residents of the apartment building that police searched told reporters that investigators asked about a woman who used to live there.
Neighbors said they had not seen a girl who looked like the composite photo released by police since March or April. They said they were told she had been taken into custody of child welfare.