Fetal remains were found in a backpack that had been placed inside a store dumpster by a teenage girl Monday in the Victorian Square shopping center in Chesterfield County, police said Thursday.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has preliminarily determined that the remains were those of a fetus, but the cause and manner of death have not yet been determined, Chesterfield police said.
A criminal investigation is ongoing.
Police said they have identified the teen who left the backpack in the dumpster but they declined to provide her age, except to say she is under 18. At this point, no charges have been filed against her, a police spokeswoman said.
Officers responded to the strip mall at the corner of Hull Street and Genito roads about 1:50 p.m. Monday, after receiving a report that a female — then unknown — had placed a backpack inside a dumpster behind one of the stores several hours earlier. Witnesses told police that the female then entered the Gabe’s discount store without the backpack before leaving the area.
A store employee had observed the teen place something in the dumpster and, thinking it was odd, checked the container and found the book bag, which contained blood. The employee then called police, and arriving officers opened the backpack and discovered what appeared to be human remains inside.
Store surveillance video captured images of the teen who left the backpack entering Gabe’s. Photos of the teen then were released to news outlets, and after they were broadcast investigators were able to identify her “with help from the public,” police said.
The teen did not purchase anything before leaving the store, and she did not attempt to recover the backpack, police said.
Maj. Michael Louth said in addition to seeking to talk with the teen about the contents of the backpack, police wanted to ensure that she was OK and didn’t need medical attention.