A baby boy found dead in a suspected shoplifter’s bag at Victoria’s Secret was born alive, weighing 81/2 pounds — and now cops are trying to figure out if he was murdered.
Tiona Rodriguez, already the mother of a 2-year-old son, initially told police she was six months pregnant and suffered a miscarriage on Wednesday, sources said.
But her lies were exposed after an autopsy on Friday determined the baby was nearly full-term at eight months. Officials said the autopsy was inconclusive about the cause of death. Results could take about two weeks.
Sources said asphyxiation is one of the possible causes, but investigators have not ruled out other explanations for the boy’s death.
The 17-year-old Brooklyn mom has been charged with swiping sexy underwear and cosmetics from the flagship store at Broadway and W. 34th St. on Thursday.
ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
NYPD detectives carry an evidence bag from the Herald Square Victoria’s Secret on Thursday after a foul odor led them to discover a baby in Rodriguez’s shopping bag.
Neighbors at the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant told the Daily News the girl would never harm a baby.
“I don’t believe she would choke her own child,” said Zami Ford, a longtime neighbor.
“We’re neighbors; we grew up together,” said Ford, 17. “Tiona is not that type. She is a loving girl.”
Police sources said investigators were immediately skeptical of the young mom’s account, especially since she already had a child.
Rodriguez, 17, already has a 2-year-old son. She was taken to Bellevue Hospital after she was arrested.
“She didn’t panic with the first one,” a police source said.
Relatives at Rodriguez’s apartment Friday night wouldn’t speculate on what happened to the newborn. “Right now, we’re just concerned about how she is,” a female relative said. “We want to know how she’s doing.”
Rodriguez’s life was turned upside down after security guards at the Herald Square store made the gruesome discovery around 1 p.m. Thursday. They had just confronted Rodriguez and her pal, 17-year-old Francis Estevez, about possible shoplifting and detected a strong odor.
As police were cuffing the teens in a back room, guards searching Rodriguez’s bags for stolen goods found a black plastic bag. Inside that bag was the dead baby, police said. The plastic bag was inside a canvas bag.
Stunned, they summoned homicide detectives and while Rodriguez was rolled out of the store in a wheelchair, her dead baby was taken to the medical examiner’s office.
KEN MURRAY/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
After the baby was discovered, police raced over to the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where Rodriguez lived with her mom and 2-year-old son.
Meanwhile, more police began searching the apartment Rodriguez shares with her mom and son.
On Wednesday night, Rodriguez possibly hinted at her predicament in a Facebook page post that read: “These Cramps SON.”
Rodriguez also wrote on the social networking site that she was excited about a job interview she had Wednesday at a Chipotle.
As news of the charges against Rodriguez spread, her page filled up with expressions of support from some of her friends.
ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Staffers at Herald Square Victoria’s Secret called police after they allegedly saw Rodriguez swiping lingerie from their shelves.
“Smhh i heard about wat happened Tionaaa,” posted Tianna Rawlings. “Keep Yaa Head Uup Bby Girl.”
But there were also some haters on Rodriguez’s page like Mark Barkley who wrote, “F— that baby killing smut.”
For now, Rodriguez and Estevez, who lives in Glendale, Queens, are both charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
Rodriguez has no priors. Estevez was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in August and busted for arson in June.
Estevez was found with $209.95 worth of clothes, an iPhone 5 case and cosmetics in her bag, sources said.
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