DNA samples from all male employees at an Arizona long-term care facility were collected Tuesday as authorities investigate how a woman — who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade — became pregnant and carried the baby to term without the staff knowing.
A warrant was served Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers at Hacienda HealthCare, where the 29-year-old woman gave birth to a baby on Dec. 29, a facility spokesman said. San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police "will do all they can to find the perpetrator" and the department will assist "in any way possible."
"Hacienda stands committed to doing everything in our power to bring this police investigation to a quick conclusion. We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the facility said in a statement.
The woman, who was an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache tribe, had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning. A source told AZFamily.com the staff only learned the patient was pregnant when she began to moan -- an indication she was going into labor.
“None of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth,” the source said.
News of the birth prompted public outrage, including from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who called the situation “deeply troubling.” Authorities have released little information from the investigation, which has yet to be classified as a sexual assault. They also have not indicated whether they are investigating people outside of the employees at the facility.
“I can’t think of a legitimate reason not to call it what it is,” former chief sex crimes investigator Bill Richardson told AZFamily.com. “The woman who gave birth is incapable of giving consent, means that it’s a sexual assault. And it’s that simple.”
Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons announced his resignation Monday, and board member Gary Orman said the facility "will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation."
"We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees," Orman said.
A lawyer for the patient’s family said in a statement Tuesday that the baby boy will “be well cared for,” but that they are shocked and outraged by the “neglect of their daughter.” They also asked for privacy.
The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile" or have developmental disabilities, according to the website. In the wake of the reports, the Arizona Department of Health Services said new safety measures have been implemented.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.