PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A decade-long cold case is now solved as an unidentified Portland newborn known as “Baby Precious” now has a name: Amara. For years, the baby girl weighed on the minds of detectives and volunteers after she was found in May 2013 at a North Portland recycling center.
“I just remember it touched my heart. It really got to me,” Joyce Harris said. Harris is one of the community members who helped plan a memorial service for the girl.
Harris says she was inspired to step in, after learning from her grandmother while growing up in Harlem. A month later on June 28, 2013, she held a service for her at Maranatha Church of God, with people across the area in attendance.
“Whenever somebody died in the community and they didn’t have family or anything, my grandmother would go around and collect money to bury them,” Harris said, remembering that when she heard the news about Baby Precious. “I picked her up, I held her, we dressed her, put the little bonnet on her head, and I remember I was holding her.”
After years, detectives were able to crack the cold case and find Amara’s parents and learn her identity. Her father, identified as Alnath Omar Oliver, was recently indicted.
Marci Jackson, now retired from the Portland Police Bureau and working as a sergeant for Portland State University’s police, was an officer at the time and says the entire community never gave up on the baby girl.
“She was loved, and I know she still is loved,” Jackson said, calling the update Thursday bittersweet. “To know that our detectives don’t quit. A lot of people in the African American community believe that their cases are closed, forgotten or cold and it’s not true. They continue to hold these cases dear to their heart, they continue to work them. They continue to try to get breaks in their cases.”
Outside the North Precinct, a rose bush was planted on what would’ve been her third birthday. Now, the sole yellow rose still bloomed, serves as a symbol of Amara living on.
“We want this baby and everybody else to know this baby is loved. We never knew her, but she was a part of us,” Harris said. “Now, 10 years later to know there’s some closure, that’s special. I hope as people see this story, they understand that we have a responsibility. Never forget.”
The case also serves as a reminder of Oregon’s Safe Haven Law where a baby up to 30 days old can be left with an employee at any medical facility, hospital, birthing center, police station or fire station in Oregon, with the hopes something like this doesn’t have to happen again.
The Baby Safe Haven confidential hotline is 1-888-510-BABY.