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CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – It took only two members of an honor guard to carry his tiny casket, but the memory of a days-old infant will likely loom large for years for those at his funeral on Wednesday near Detroit.
Dozens attended the tear-soaked service for the boy, known simply as Baby Henry, whose body was discovered almost two months ago at a recycling center in the city of Roseville.
Morgue employees named the child "Henry Alexander Macomb," after the county's namesake, Gen. Alexander Macomb. Police determined he was the son of Angela Alexie, whom they say gave birth to the boy shortly before Christmas in an Eastpointe garage, where she left him unattended for three days. The newborn's lifeless body was discovered in January at the recycling facility.
Roseville Police Chief James Berlin called it a "very heinous case."
Alexie, 24, is charged with child abuse and felony murder. Defense lawyer Steven Kaplan said his client is remorseful and the murder charge is excessive.
"I don't know what to say. I'm standing here representing the church, and I'm just as confused as most of you," said Richard Shubik, a deacon at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Farms who presided over the service. "But I think it's fitting, and I'm proud of all of you that are here today so that we can send Baby Henry off to the kingdom in the proper way."
Shubik, along with a number of those in attendance at Resurrection Cemetery in Macomb County's Clinton Township, became emotional during the brief service, pausing in the middle of a prayer to compose himself.
The service also featured a bagpiper in addition to the procession led by the honor guard.
Clinton Township fire Lt. Paul Brouwer, who walked behind the baby's casket, said he and his fellow firefighters were moved by the baby's story.
"He was here for just such a short time that it was a tragedy to say the least. Hopefully with this his spirit can rest easy," Brouwer said.
The burial plot in an area of the cemetery devoted to children, as well as the casket and a viewing held Tuesday evening all were donated.
Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon, who helped organize the effort, said "we adopted the baby as a community."
"He started out without anybody loving him. Now, we all love him. And I want the world forever to know that," Cannon said.