Police in Las Cruces, New Mexico hope to find out who left a human placenta in a park. The discovery was made in January and was recently confirmed to be a human placenta.

Amy Orlando, Dona Ana County District Attorney, said “That’s the first thing that you think of: If there’s a placenta there, where’s the baby?”

The Las Cruces Police Department (LCPD) said an initial search when the placenta was first discovered provided no signs of a baby in or around the Rio Grande or the park where the human remains were found. Orlando said it is concerning that a placenta was found at a park, but there are no other clues.

Orlando went on to say “Are they looking for a crime? Are they looking to make sure there’s somebody that’s not out there hurt or that there’s a baby missing or injured, or whatever”.

DNA Testing Lab

Detectives got a huge lead after taking the placenta to the Genetic Technologies Limited (GTL), part of Genetic Testing Laboratories, a DNA testing lab based at New Mexico State University.

Stefan Long, executive director of GTL said “They brought it to us Friday afternoon, and we had it ready Monday afternoon”.

GTL has new DNA testing technology to determine the gender and ethnicity of the baby using DNA taken from the placenta. Long said the baby is a male and likely African-American.

Long said “It certainly narrows their search tremendously, knowing the gender.”

Orlando commented “That also guides us to say, ‘OK, do we think there’s a baby missing some place or does it tell us maybe it’s a culture that does something with the placenta, or the baby’s fine?”

The DNA testing technology used by GTL has never been seen before and has been a work in progress since the lab started developing it years ago.

“After many long nights, probably 13 months of working three to four days a week until 10 or 11 o’clock at night we were able to come up with an algorithm that is very accurate,” said Long.

DNA Testing to Fight Crime

GTL hopes to help federal and state law enforcement agencies across the country solve more crimes when the technology is released the spring.

“The equipment they have is incredible and the turnaround rate they have on DNA, on forensic testing, and the people they have working at the lab is just a resource I think we need to tap into,” said Orlando.

Orlando is so impressed with the Las Cruces DNA testing lab that she is now in talks with her former boss and new governor Susana Martinez.

“What we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to push for the crime lab here to be part of the crime lab up north,” said Orlando.

Orlando said with only one crime lab for the entire state in Santa Fe, too many crimes are going unsolved.

“You send something to Santa Fe and just because they’re over-worked so much they won’t even look at cases unless you have a match,” said Orlando. “Here they’ll help guide us and they have the time and equipment to help guide law enforcement which I just think is a tool we can’t pass up.”

The LCPD are still trying to locate the mother and baby of that placenta just as a safety precaution. If you have any information please call the Las Cruces Police Department at 575-524-4222.

Contact GTL now for more information about DNA testing on 01273 748926 or email us at info@gtldna.co.uk.