Downtown Los Angeles header image
Los Angeles Police Department Badge


News Release

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Media Relations

Baby's Tragic Death Highlights Importance of Safe Haven Law

"Baby’s Tragic Death Highlights Importance of Safe Haven Law"


Press Conference to Bring Awareness to the "Safe Haven" Law

Assistant Chief George Gascon, Chief of Support Services, Los Angeles City Fire Chief, William R. Bamattre, Detectives from Juvenile Division

Tuesday, August 12, 2003 at 3:00 p.m.

Downtown Los Angeles City Fire Station #3, 108 North Fremont Avenue, Los Angeles

Los Angeles: On Monday, August 11, 2003, at about 5:00 p.m., detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Abused Child Unit, Juvenile Division, arrested 23-year-old Maria Legarda while she was a patient at a hospital in the San Fernando Valley. Legarda, who was taken into custody without incident, was arrested for the murder of her newborn baby boy.

The investigation into Legarda began in the morning when she arrived at the emergency room of the hospital. She initially stated she had delivered her baby in a motel room and her boyfriend had abducted the infant. Devonshire Area patrol officers then began an immediate, but futile, search of several motels.

In the meantime, continued questioning of Legarda resulted in information that there was no boyfriend and that the newborn was at a residence in the 15200 block of Knapp Street in North Hills. Officers and paramedics responded to the residence where a search discovered the body of a new born baby boy.

Legarda’s statement to detectives indicated that she had given birth to a live baby and that she was responsible for the child’s death. The cause of death is pending an autopsy by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

The investigation is ongoing. Legarda has been arrested for Penal Code Section 187, Murder and remains in custody with a bail of $1,000,000.

For further information, please contact Detective James Brown at 213-485-2883.

This unfortunate case serves as a reminder that California is one of several states that have enacted "Safe Haven" laws. Under California’s law, a mother may, within 72 hours of delivering her baby, safely surrender the child to an identified location. In Los Angeles County, those locations include:

  • Any Los Angeles County emergency room; or

  • Fire station; and

  • The surrender of the child is done anonymously.