Abandoned fetus leads to charges


Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 12:03 a.m.
One woman has been arrested and Starke police are looking for a second in connection with the recovered remains of a fetus discovered in a sealed plastic food container.
Police found the remains last week in the bed of an abandoned pickup on Lake Street in Starke, said Lt. Barry Warren. Results from the Medical Examiners Office in Gainesville determined that the remains, 16 to 17 weeks old, did not belong to a mature fetus.
"By law, that is not considered a viable fetus," Warren said.
Viable refers to whether an infant has developed sufficiently to live and continue normal development outside the mother's body. Generally, the time frame considered viable is 20 to 25 weeks, Warren said.
Police have charged Carolyn Padgett, 50, of Bradford County with tampering with evidence, a felony, and improper disposal of fetal remains, a misdemeanor.
Padgett is a friend of Patti Sue Williams, 29, of Lawtey, who Warren said was the mother.
Williams has not been located and is being sought by police for questioning and possible charges.
The fetus was located Oct. 25 in a closed container 10 inches long, 8 inches wide and 3 inches deep.
"He told me he was just shocked," Warren said, describing the officer's reaction to the discovery.
Warren said the pickup was found Tuesday on property behind a Starke business where Williams apparently miscarried.
When police contacted Padgett, she told them the fetus had been moved to different locations. Officers believe she was trying to hide the pickup's location.
Warren said he did not know why the decision was made to conceal the remains.
Police received a tip about three weeks ago - while investigating a series of burglaries - about a woman giving birth and someone getting rid of the child's body.
"The information was that a fully-developed child is what was seen and the baby was disposed of," Warren said.
Padgett, who was arrested last week, was being held at the Bradford County jail Monday on a $250,000 bond.
Anyone with information about this case or Williams' whereabouts is asked to contact the Starke Police Department at (904) 964-5400.
Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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