January 29, 2008
Dead baby's father sought in roadside discovery
Police want to question the father of a 3-month-old baby boy who matches the description of a body found Tuesday near a child's car seat on the side of a Galveston road.
Galveston police put out a nationwide investigative hold for Travis Mullis, 21, after an Alvin woman said her baby had been missing since 6 a.m. Tuesday and identified the dead child as hers after seeing a photo.
Mullis is described as 5-foot-10, 150 pounds. He wears glasses and is known as "T.J.,"' police said.
The mother's name is not being released until the Medical Examiner's Office identifies the body.
The body of a blond baby boy clad in a diaper was discovered in the grass near the side of a road about 9 a.m. Tuesday near Seawall Boulevard and Ferry Road, Galveston police Lt. Jorge Trevino said.
"A couple was driving on Cherry Hill and saw what they thought was a doll," Trevino said. But something looked odd and they stopped and discovered the body next to a child's car seat, he said.
Trevino said the description of the Alvin woman's missing baby matched that of the body — blond hair and blue eyes.
He said the woman, whom he did not identify, came to Galveston voluntarily and last saw the child with the father.
He said someone who lives with her called Texas EquuSearch, a volunteer organization that searches for missing persons, and EquuSearch called the Galveston police.
Trevino said it appeared that the child may have been thrown from the car while sitting in the car seat. He said it was unlikely that the child could have somehow fallen out of the car without the driver being aware.
Cherry Hill is the unofficial name for a 2-mile stretch of Seawall Boulevard that begins past Ferry Road and runs to the east end of the island at the Ship Channel. The road is unusual because a berm on its north side is paved, allowing cars to drive along the top of the berm.
Jesse James Zaro Jr., 43, of Galveston and wife Esmeralda, 45, were driving slowly along the top of the berm looking for coyotes when they spotted the body, Zaro said.
"I looked over to the side and it looked like a doll," Zaro said. "Then I just said, 'Oh my God,' and I got out of the car and looked and it was a baby, a little baby.
"It was horrible. I went to pieces, I couldn't believe it."
Zaro said he tried to flag down a truck before learning that his wife was carrying a cell phone. Police received the call at 8:59 a.m.
Choking with emotion, Zaro said he couldn't understand why someone would discard a child. "First of all, if you couldn't handle what you had, you could have given it to somebody who could have taken care of it," he said.
"But golly, why hurt a poor defenseless little baby?"
The body was about 20 feet from the curb at the top of the berm in a grassy area. The car seat was found in a brushy area about 30 feet farther.
Crime scene investigators were combing the area for evidence and will have exact measurements later today, Trevino said.
He said it was likely that the body had been by the side of the road for a short time because it was in good condition and had not been attacked by animals. He said there were no obvious marks on the body.
The body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office, Trevino said.
The discovery comes nearly three months after a fisherman discovered the unidentified body of a 2-year-old girl in a plastic box that had washed up on an island in West Galveston Bay.
Authorities searched for nearly a month before determining the identity of Riley Ann Sawyers of Spring. Trevino said he expected the baby boy to be identified much sooner.
"Whoever came out here is familiar with the area," Trevino said. He said prints of children's feet are often taken at birth, which should help identification.
He said a sketch or photo of the face would be made if necessary to help identify the child.
District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk and First Assistant District Attorney Joel Bennett were at the scene conferring with investigators, but declined comment.
Sistrunk is prosecuting the parents of Riley Ann Sawyers on capital murder charges.