A baby boy found floating in a canal may have been alive for several hours after being left in the water, murder investigators have said.
West Midlands Police today launched a murder probe weeks after the days-old infant’s body was discovered floating at Rough Wood Country park in Walsall by a passerby on May 20.
A £5,000 reward is even being offered for any information into the case, with detectives desperate to identify the child’s mother.
Detective Inspector Wes Martin, from the force’s Homicide Unit, said he and colleagues are treating it as murder “until we’ve spoken to the parents who can help us with our understanding”.
He explained the force had liaised with the Black Country Coroner and the baby’s body has been “retained with dignity” should the parents wish to lay him to rest properly.
Speaking this afternoon, DI Martin said: “Pathology suggests the baby was potentially alive for several hours.
“We’re treating it as a murder investigation until we’ve spoken to the parents who can help us with our understanding.
“We understand it’s a really distressing time for the parents.
“We’ll treat them sensitively and support them throughout. But we need to understand what happened.
“We’ve liaised with the Black Country Coroner and the baby’s body has been retained with dignity in case they wish to lay him to rest.
“We want to try and find the truth and understand what happened to the baby boy,” he added.
WMP previously said the full-term baby was “probably not alive” when he was put into the Wyrley and Essington Canal near Willenhall.
And he may have been in the water for up to four days before being discovered.
Lee Coles made the tragic discovery in a stretch of canal off Hunts Lane at around 1pm on May 20 as he walked home from shopping.
The 27-year-old, who has a toddler of his own, said he first believed the tragic infant was a doll, but called police when he realised what had happened.
Mr Coles, a full-time carer, that he noticed the infant’s feet and hands in the water in the water.
He said: “I went into complete shock. I couldn’t move. I had to sit down back – I felt like I was going to pass out.”
Alongside the announcement the case was now being treated as murder, Crimestoppers charity said it was offering the large reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible.
Mick Duthie, director of operations at the organisation, said: “This is a particularly sad, tragic case and shocking for the community, so we are keen to have answers as to what happened and who was involved.
“We are urging anyone who may know something to contact our charity anonymously as soon as possible.”
He reiterated there is a concern for the mother’s wellbeing.
“Investigators, who have asked our charity to put up this reward, believe that someone may know or suspect who the mother is,” Mr Duthie continued.
“We hope that our reward for information given anonymously will help prompt someone’s conscience to speak up and tell us what they know.”
Anyone who contacts Crimestoppers remains 100 percent anonymous.
The charity’s UK Contact Centre can be reached on freephone 0800 555 111, which is open 24/7.
Or by using the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.