WORCESTER -- A closed-door hearing about the future of a little girl stolen from her mother's womb last month has ended and a judge has ordered the child held in state custody until at least next month, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services.
The newborn will stay in a foster home as authorities investigate the families seeking custody and use DNA testing to confirm maternity and paternity of the child, said spokeswoman Alison Goodwin. The decision by Judge Carol Erskine will stand until at least next month, when the next hearing will be held.
The child's presumed biological father, Roberto C. "Tito" Rodriguez, has petitioned the court for custody, according to his mother, Luz Mena, and a family friend, Dennis Berard, who waited outside the two-hour hearing. Rodriguez attended the hearing, but left by a back door and was unavailable for comment.
Relatives of Darlene Haynes, the woman whose mutilated body was found in her Worcester apartment on July 27, also are seeking custody. As soon as today's hearing was finished, Hayne's aunt and uncle, Karl and Beverly Whitney, filed a petition for permanent guardianship of the child.
While the baby is still known as Baby Jane Doe in court records, Mena and Berard said that Rodriguez wants to name her Isabel Justice. Rodriguez is the father of Darlene Haynes's 18-month-old daughter.
Under state law, people seeking custody of the child were not allowed to file a petition until the completion of today's so-called 72-hour hearing, which marks the third court date since the infant was taken into state custody. A court-appointed lawyer represented the interests of the child in today's hearing. Custody cases are typically resolved in about 18 months.
Julie Corey, the woman police say kidnapped the child, was arrested last week in Plymouth, N.H., and is being held in a New Hampshire jail on charges that she is a fugitive from justice. No one has been charged with killing Haynes.
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