Police searched all around Eastern Massachusetts late into Saturday night, after a Newtonville resident found a cardboard box Friday with a note inside asking the finder to take care of a baby, but no baby has been found.
Police were called to Otis Street shortly after the resident found the box around 6 p.m., said Newton Police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker.
According to Apotheker, the resident was bringing in his trash barrels, when he found the box inside his recycling bin. The handwritten note appeared to come from a teenage mother named Bimini, asking whoever found the box to take care of her 4-month-old daughter Sonny.
“It appeared that the mother was abandoning the daughter,” Apotheker said.
But no baby was there. No one reported seeing anything suspicious or hearing any cries on Friday, police said.
“Officers canvassed the area. Nobody saw or heard anything,” Apotheker said.
Apotheker said the recycling was picked up around 2 p.m. Friday.
State Police were called to assist, activating a Special Emergency Response Team of troopers who went in search of the infant.
State Police tracked the recyclables picked up along the route to a Recycle America facility in Avon, 24 miles away, said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman. Fifteen troopers and a Newton officer combed 250 tons of debris.
“State troopers are working with the facility manager down there to search an area of that facility where the recyclables from this route would have been deposited,” Procopio said. “Recyclables are being taken out into an accessible area and spread over a flat surface, and they will be meticulously and thoroughly pored through by specially trained troopers.
“We know we’re in the right area of the facility, because we’re seeing items that came from Newton.”
Recycling bins in Newton are picked up by a mechanical arm and dumped into a garbage truck, Apotheker said. If a baby had been in the bin, the workers picking up the recyclables probably would not have seen the child.
The box had a UPS label with an Attleboro address. Police determined that the package was delivered last year and that the addressee had no connection to the incident.
More than 24 hours after the box and note were found, police were not sure if there is a missing baby or if the incident is a hoax.
“We’re treating this to be a legitimate incident until we’re proved otherwise,” Apotheker said. “All investigative leads will be followed up.”
State Police echoed.
“If it’s real, it’s unthinkable, but we’re treating it as such. It could be a child’s life in the balance,” Procopio said. “We hope to God it is a hoax because the other scenario is too terrible to even think about.”
The box was found in a leafy neighborhood of single-family homes, with lots of children and dogs. Residents said it’s the kind of neighborhood where everyone knows everyone.
Newton placed a reverse 911 call to local residents, warning them about the incident.
“That freaked me out. That really freaked me out,” said Newton resident Kimberly Henning, 36, vice president of a Boston startup called Gazelle, which buys and recycles used electronics. “I have a 2-year-old, and any story like that, especially being so close to the high school, is really scary and especially for Newton. You just wouldn’t think that something like that would happen here.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Newton police department at 617-796-2100 or 617-796-2104, or State Police at 508-820-2121, or by dialing 911 on any cell phone.
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globe_guilfoil.