Abandoned Baby Not Jessie Davis' Child

UNIONTOWN, Ohio (AP) - A baby found on a doorstep in northeast Ohio does not belong to a missing pregnant woman, the Wayne County Sheriff's Department said.

The baby was left outside a home near Wooster about 45 miles from where Jessie Davis lived.

Davis, 26, was reported missing one week ago Friday after her mother found the woman's bedroom in disarray, a pool of bleach on the floor, furniture overturned and Davis' young son home alone.

Sheriff Thomas Maurer said a woman admitted leaving the newborn at the Wooster-area home. He said she concealed her pregnancy from her family and gave birth while at a hotel in neighboring Richland County.

"This incident is not related to the ongoing investigation by the Stark County Sheriff's Office in the disappearance of Jessie Davis," Maurer said in a news release.

The discovery of the baby Monday raised questions about whether the child belonged to Davis, and DNA tests were being conducted.

Davis is expecting a baby girl July 3. Volunteers searched the area around her home near Uniontown for the second day Friday, looking for clues to her disappearance.

Her 2-year-old son, Blake, who may be the only witness to his mother's disappearance, told investigators: "Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in rug."

Authorities earlier had said they didn't believe that the baby girl found in Wayne County belonged to Davis. The woman who discovered the baby is a nurse who has counseled pregnant teens.

Maurer said the investigation shows that the residence where the baby was left was picked at random and that the woman acted alone. The case has been turned over to the Wayne County prosecutor's office.

Davis' mother, Patricia Porter, was the last person to speak to Davis on June 13 and says she's focused on finding her daughter.

"We are not stopping and whoever's done this, I hope they don't think that we're going home. No one's going home and we are not stopping until we find her and find who did this to her," she said, choking up.

When Porter was asked Friday by NBC's "Today" show if she considered the father of Davis' son, she replied: "Yes, he's a suspect."

"I still pray that it's not him," she said. "That doesn't mean that I don't think he's a suspect, as well."

Authorities have talked with and searched the home of Canton police officer Bobby Cutts Jr., the father of Davis' son, although investigators have repeatedly said he is not a suspect.

Cutts, 30, says he had nothing to do with Davis' disappearance. The woman's family says he is the father of both Blake and of Davis' unborn baby.

As a police officer, Cutts knows that spouses or significant others are often the perpetrators in such cases and understands why many people, including Davis' mother, are pointing to him as a suspect in the case, said C.A. Richmond Sr., pastor at Logos Baptist Assembly, which Cutts attends.

"He understands what goes with the territory," Richmond said. "Of course he is anxious for a resolution and disposition of the whole matter and he is confident they will find he had nothing to do with her disappearance."

Richmond went to Cutts' house Thursday to pray with him.

"We've prayed every day since this story has broken," Richmond said.

Porter's attorney, Rick Pitinii, said that her comment about Cutts as a suspect was based more on her emotions than evidence in the case.

"She doesn't understand the legalities of the terms," he said. "She's a grieving mom right now."

About 250 volunteers searched for Davis Friday, far fewer than the 1,800 who turned up Thursday to scour backyards, vacant fields and a Christmas tree farm.

Groups of 80 to 100 volunteers covered about 12 square miles Thursday and the goal Friday was to cover the same amount of territory, said Tim Miller, director of Texas EquuSearch, an internationally active search group that organized the volunteer effort.

The search will resume Saturday if Davis isn't found Friday.

Search dogs hit on one area of freshly dug dirt Thursday more than a mile from Davis' home in nearby Lake Township, but it turned out to be a marijuana plot, Stark County sheriff's Capt. Gary Shankle said.

"It's very frustrating, but we just can't leave any stone unturned," he said.

Miller said all hits by dogs and anything unusual that volunteers find will be turned over to the sheriff's department.

"When we have Jessie everybody will know," he said.

Davis' family is not participating in the search. Davis' father had searched with volunteers on Thursday.

"It's too stressful every time a dog comes across something," said Davis' sister Whitney.

Scott Wheeler, 39, of East Canton, volunteered to search Friday for 2½ hours before work. He brought a flashlight and insect repellant, and organizers cautioned searchers to be ready for rough terrain, saying shorts and sandals would not be sufficient.

Some searchers had chest-high walking sticks and golf clubs to check the underbrush.

Karrin Herberghs, 38, of Plain Township, searched through a field, and said that Cutts was the assistant coach for her 5-year-old daughter's soccer team this year. Cutts also had a daughter on the team.

"He was at every game," Herberghs said. "He was very pleasant and very good with the kids."

Porter said Friday that Davis' young son was keeping everyone motivated and displaying so many characteristics of his mother, whom she described as her best friend, a woman without enemies who "always had a big smile on her face."

Blake "has periods where he just lays his head down on the couch and has this horrible look of sadness, and then the next moment he'll have this big, beautiful smile. He really is what keeps us going," she told ABC.

 

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