HOBBS, N.M. — Hobbs Police held a press conference Monday concerning the arrest of Alexis Avila, 18, for attempted murder. Police said Avila threw her newborn baby into a trash dumpster on Friday.
When Hobbs business owner Joe Imbriale got a call from the Hobbs Police Department on Friday night, he worried somebody broke into his furniture store. As he arrived to find flashing police lights illuminating not a broken storefront window, but bags of garbage strewn around his three Waste Management dumpsters, he feared something much worse.
“I could see in their faces something was not right,” Imbriale said. “Their faces were distraught. You could see they were upset… One of the female officers just couldn’t talk about it.”
When he installed surveillance cameras around his store six months ago, he said it was not to protect his property, but to give the public another vantage point should something happen.
“[Police] said, ‘we’re looking for somebody that dumped a black garbage bag in your dumpster.’ And something told me – I turned around and said, ‘Please do not tell me it was a baby,'” Imbriale said. “She grabbed my shoulder. That’s when I broke down crying… Two of the officers had to walk away because, when we said that verbally, it hit them.”
Police arrested Avila Saturday after seeing those surveillance videos. According to court records, Avila is accused of tossing her newborn baby in a dumpster shortly after giving birth Friday – telling police she “panicked,” and confessed to abandoning the baby boy in a trash bag.
“[She] threw it in the dumpster, got in the car, [and] left — like it was a bag of clothes or something — just heaved it in there,” Imbriale said. “I’m sorry, but that’s evil. That is pure evil right there… What people did not see… the five and a half hours the baby was in the dumpster and people didn’t know, people [were] dumping trash on the baby. That was gut-wrenching — people dumping cardboard on the baby… That’s still hard to swallow.”
“I’ve spent my entire career in law enforcement and I’ve never seen a situation like this,” Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said. “These types of calls often stay with officers long after they are resolved. Often for many, many years. Sometimes forever.”
According to Chief Fons, Avila was surprised by the birth and unaware she was pregnant until the day before.
“She stated that she then cut the umbilical cord, wrapped the baby in a towel and placed the baby inside a white trash bag containing some trash and then inside a larger trash bag,” Chief Fons said.
Without so much as a name, the boy’s first hours of life were spent under a growing pile of waste, left to languish in the cold until he was saved by strangers and the fortune of fate.
Chief Fons expressed his gratitude for the “quick, collective response” by Michael Green, Hector Jasso, and April Nuttall, who told police they were searching for valuables in the dumpster when they heard a baby crying.
“They thought it may have been a puppy or a kitten, so they removed a black trash bag, opened it and saw that it was a human baby,” Fons said. “The female removed the baby from the trash bag and held him, trying to keep him warm while one of her male companions called 911.”
As of Monday, the boy was in the care of Covenant Children’s Hospital in Lubbock and in the custody of New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department. Ms. Avila, however, remained out of custody until her pre-trial detention hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
A district judge assigned her a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond, meaning Avila was released from jail before trial and only required to pay bail if she failed to appear in court. Mr. Imbriale expressed concerns.
“The baby spent more time in the dumpster than this girl spent in jail,” Imbriale said. “I can’t grasp that.”
Ms. Avila was charged with attempted murder and child abuse. New Mexico’s Fifth Judicial District Attorney Diana Luce explained “alternative charges” can be filed when the facts of the incident fit multiple crimes, but Avila could only be convicted of one of them. Prosecutors will decide which charge to pursue at her preliminary hearing in district court. Avila faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if found guilty on one of the two counts.
New Mexico, like all 50 states, has a “Safe Haven” law. While the exact parameters differ by state, these laws allow women to responsibly drop off newborns at designated areas without facing charges.