NEWARK, Del. – Delaware state police are searching for a New Jersey woman who they believe may have abandoned her toddler in a hospital parking lot last weekend, authorities said Friday.
Amy Giordano, 25, of Hightstown, N.J., was last heard from June 6, when she spoke by telephone with a friend, state police said.
An 11-month-old boy believed to be Giordano's son was found June 9 in the parking lot of Christiana Hospital. Inside the boy's diaper was a scrawled note that read "Please help my baby John Vincent I can no longer take care of him. Lost job, lost medical. God have mercy on me."
Police said the owner of a building where Giordano rented an apartment saw a picture of the boy distributed by Delaware authorities, identified the toddler as Giordano's son, and contacted Hightstown police Thursday afternoon.
"Our first goal, foremost, was to deal with the welfare of the child," state police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh said. "The next goal now is finding the mother... We just want to find her to see if she's OK."
Mike Vanderbeck, owner of the Slow Down Cafe in Hightstown, said an employee had seen media reports of the abandoned child and told him the boy looked a lot like Giordano's son, Michael Digirolamo.
Curious, Vanderbeck went online a couple of days later to see for himself. After his wife and another person confirmed the likeness, he called police.
Vanderbeck, who said Giordano came into his cafe daily for coffee, had no explanation for her disappearance or the abandonment of the boy.
"I knew her well enough to know that this was an incredibly caring and loving mother," he said. "This woman really took care of this baby."
Vanderbeck said Giordano always seemed upbeat and made sure that her son received proper care for skin rashes from which he suffered.
"I know she was back and forth to a pediatrician," he said, adding that Giordano never seemed to show any outward signs of depression or anxiety.
Vanderbeck said he could not explain the note found with the boy, saying Giordano had no job or medical insurance to lose.
Vanderbeck, however, did see some similarities between the diaper note and entries found in a notebook discovered when he accompanied a detective during a search of Giordano's apartment.
"Some of it looked like very fluid handwriting, but a few pages later it started to deteriorate," he said, adding that the notebook entries included phrases such as "I don't deserve you," or "I'm not good enough for you."
Other items found in the apartment included a crib, a stroller, toys, and a prescription bottle with the boy's name. Delaware police said the boy's pediatrician has confirmed his identity. Police said Friday that they were awaiting footprint records and may use DNA testing for further confirmation. Authorities could not explain why the note scrawled on the diaper of the missing toddler had a different name.
Vanderbeck said the boy's father, Roy Digirolamo, paid the $850 monthly rent for Giordano and her son but did not live with them.
"I can confirm he was the father of that child," he said.
Efforts to contact Digirolamo, who works at an appliance manufacturing company in Hightstown, were not immediately successful.
According to Vanderbeck, Giordano had been staying at the apartment, located above a nail salon, since April 2006. A couple of months ago, she asked for early termination of her lease, saying she planned to move to Twin Rivers, N.J.
Vanderbeck said he last spoke to Giordano on June 2, when she brought her son to the cafe to listen to live music.
While police said their focus is on finding Giordano, not prosecuting her, deputy attorney general Patricia Dailey Lewis said Giordano could face charges of child endangerment and abandonment.
"Obviously, it's a very serious and irresponsible thing to drop a child in a parking lot," she said.
The boy is now in temporary foster care under the supervision of the Division of Family Services. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Family Court to determine whether the state can establish probable cause that the boy was neglected or abused and take custody.