Woman charged in death of baby girl found in Calgary dumpster

Police say charges have been laid in connection with the death of a baby girl found in a Calgary parking lot on Christmas Eve 2017.

Dead newborn was discovered in Bowness on Christmas Eve 2017

Nina Albright leaves courthouse

3 years ago
Duration 0:43
Nina Albright, 21, leaves the Calgary courthouse on Thursday. Police say charges have been laid in connection with the death of a newborn who was found in a dumpster on Christmas Eve 2017.

Police say a woman has been charged in connection with the death of a baby girl found in a Calgary parking lot on Christmas Eve 2017.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2017, the newborn was found in a garbage bin located behind 7943 43rd Ave. N.W. by a nearby resident who then called police.

An autopsy report found the child was not stillborn and had been breathing on her own. It's believed the baby was born the same day she was found.

Evidence at the scene, located in the community of Bowness, indicated the mother was in need of medical help. 

There were 70 tips to police over the course of the investigation, which began as an undetermined death. Police said each tip was followed in an attempt to identify the mother and check on her well-being.

Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta discusses charges laid

3 years ago
Duration 0:38
Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta holds a press conference after charges were laid in connection with the death of a baby girl found in a Calgary parking lot on Christmas Eve 2017.

Police used DNA phenotyping for the first time ever to create an image of the mother that resembled the infant. 

Both security video and DNA confirmation from the baby and mother eventually provided investigators enough information to proceed with charges.

The security footage also showed the woman was with another person who police believe was her boyfriend at the time. She also appeared to be purchasing items, which police couldn't elaborate on, that are "consistent after childbirth."

Nina Albright, 21, was charged Thursday with indignity to a dead human body and failure to provide the necessaries of life, police say. The case is still before the court. Police said it's possible more could be added, including homicide charges.

Police said Albright is the mother of the deceased child and that the service is trying to identify the father by working through a DNA elimination process. Police don't believe she sought medical assistance at the time of the incident.

The sketch of a woman was created through a process called DNA phenotyping. It shows a possible likeness, at about age 25, of the mother of a baby found abandoned in a northwest Calgary dumpster on Christmas Eve 2017. (Calgary Police Service)

"This is a case that weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of not only investigators but the larger community," said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta at a news conference Thursday evening.

"While particulars surrounding motive and intent will unfold as part of the court process, we hope this provides some level of closure for all involved."

He added that anyone in a similar situation should "seek proper resources and seek medical attention."

Controversial forensic test

Police hired a U.S. DNA technology firm to create a sketch of the possible likeness of the mother and baby, who was described as having light complexion and dark hair.

The technique involves predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified genetic evidence.

DNA phenotyping has been criticized by a leading U.S. forensic expert, who served as the primary DNA specialist prosecutor in O.J. Simpson's murder trial in 1995.

Calgary police were called to a parking lot near the Bownesian Grocer at Bowness Road and 79th Street N.W. at approximately 11:30 p.m. MT on Dec. 24. They found a deceased newborn and want to talk with the mother as she could be in medical distress. (David Bell/CBC)

Forensic DNA consultant Rockne Harmon told CBC in a previous interview that Canadian agencies are doing victims a disservice by using a potentially misleading DNA technique, instead of a surer method to identify suspects.