BANGKOK – A New York man has been arrested after he hopped a plane to Thailand after carrying his dead seven-month-old baby around New York City in a backpack and tossing the boy’s body into the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge and other tourist hotspots, police said Wednesday.
Thai authorities stopped James Currie, 37, when he landed in Bangkok and blocked him from entering the country, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. He will be returned to New York within days to face a felony charge of concealment of a human corpse, Shea said.
The boy’s diaper-clad body was found Sunday by an Oklahoma tourist.
“This is a heartbreaking case,” Shea said.
Shea said the baby was alive when Currie took him to his Bronx apartment on Saturday under a custody arrangement and died sometime before Currie left the apartment and headed for Manhattan the next day.
Video showed Currie walking toward the river and carrying the baby in a backpack he fashioned as a baby carrier. A backpack was seen floating in the river near the boy’s body.
Additional charges could be filed pending the outcome of an autopsy.
Diana Campbell, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, first noticed the baby around 4pm Sunday. Her husband, Monte Campbell, waded into shallow water near the Manhattan shoreline, retrieved the baby and started CPR.
“She just called me over and said there was a baby in the water,” Monte Campbell said. “I called 911. At that point, I thought it was a doll.”
He said the baby wasn’t breathing and showed no pulse.
Police officers arrived minutes later and took the baby onto the pedestrian walkway, where they continued CPR before the baby was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
No parent or guardian was present at the scene, police said.
The boy’s mother frantically called 911 around 9pm Monday after Currie failed to return the baby, per their custody arrangement. They were not married.
Shea said the city’s children’s services administration had no prior reports regarding the child or the couple. Shea wouldn’t comment on whether Currie had a criminal record.
The East River running between Manhattan and Brooklyn is a heavily trafficked tidal estuary subject to strong currents. Both park-lined shorelines usually are teeming with tourists this time of year.
By Michael R. Sisak
The Associated Press