Funeral held for unidentified baby found in recycling center

May 16, 2013 (CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill.)

The body of baby boy was found in a recycling center in suburban Chicago Ridge on May 1.

The police department and parishioners at a local church in Chicago Ridge arranged a funeral for the child.

Police came in full dress. Others came too. For a boy, born slightly premature, and then discarded - his body found in a cooler dumped at a recycling center.

"We've never had anything like this in our town," Chicago Ridge Police Chief Robert Pyznarski said. "Our number one thing was this baby needed to have a proper burial."

His remains were placed in this tiny casket, and he was given the name Jeremiah Michael. Jeremiah means "God will set you free", and Michael is the patron saint of police.

Two hundred people gathered for his funeral to hear a most basic message- cherish life.

"It might sound silly to somebody who doesn't have faith but for those of us who do, he's home now, he's safe. He deserves that dignity," president of "Rest in His Arms" Susan Walker said.

Walker and Dawn Geras run twin organizations focused on abandoned children. They help set up funerals when necessary, and adoptions when possible, and they keep beating the drum for the state's Safe Haven law. An unwanted, unharmed baby 30 days old or younger can be dropped off at a fire or police station, or hospital.

"Walk away. No questions asked. Just give us the baby safely instead of burying them," Geras of "Save Abandoned Babies" said.

Geras helped author and later tweak the Illinois safe haven law. She and others have been able to rejoice when it succeeds, but it didn't work for Jeremiah Michael. He is the 70th baby since the law was enacted in 2001 to be illegally abandoned. He is the 36th to be buried.

A burial gown, the cradle casket, a headstone, a plot were all donated for Jeremiah Michael as they have been for others before and most regrettably others yet to come.

The funeral marked the 19th time Walker has helped arrange a funeral for an abandoned baby. With each new one, it gets tougher when you know that there's another way, Geras said.

Police are working the investigation but have no new leads on who might be responsible for the death of Jeremiah Michael.

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