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Baseball Hall Of Famer's Daughter Arrested For Leaving Her Newborn In Frigid New Hampshire Woods
Alexandra Eckersley, the daughter of former Red Sox and Oakland Athletics pitcher Dennis Eckersley, has been moving between homeless encampments in New Hampshire for several years.
A New Hampshire woman with a famous father is facing multiple charges after she allegedly gave birth to a premature baby in the New Hampshire woods and then lied about the location of the newborn to police.
Alexandra Eckersley, 26, called the Manchester police at 12:26 a.m. on Monday to report that she had given birth in the woods near the Piscataquog River on the west side of the city, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com. It was 15 degrees Farenheit at the time.
Eckersley allegedly told the treating EMT that she had no idea she was pregnant and had felt like she needed to use the bathroom, but then didn't know what to do with the infant when she gave birth instead.
Police began searching the woods around the city's West Side Ice Arena for the infant at Eckersley's direction; she eventually got out of the ambulance and led the searchers south along the river toward some nearby baseball fields. Officers thought Eckersley's behavior was consistent with her being actively under the influence of drugs, and she didn't at first appear able to help them locate the child.
Due to the severe cold, possible premature birth and her inability to identify where she'd given birth, police used drones and eventually called in a K-9 unit to try to locate the newborn.
After nearly an hour of walking with searchers, Eckersley returned to the ambulance to warm up and allegedly told the EMT that the baby was actually located in her and her boyfriend's tent, north of the arena and across the Piscataqua Rail Trail foot bridge. She agreed to lead officers there.
As they walked with Eckersley, they allegedly found what appeared to be her placenta along the trail.
The affidavit states she led them to a tent-structure, just out of sight of the trail, made of tarps and containing furniture and other belongings. There was a separate, smaller tent inside for sleeping, where officers located the still-breathing, naked 4.41-pound baby boy near a blood-covered bed. The child was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined he was likely around six months along in his mother's pregnancy before being born, and helicoptered him to another hospital for treatment.
It took officers an hour and 15 minutes to locate the child after the 911 call.
At the campsite, Eckersley began playing music on her phone and singing along, police said, but denied she'd recently taken any drugs; she allegedly said her last use had been marijuana and cocaine two days prior. She refused post-natal medical care but ultimately agreed to go to the police department for an interview in exchange for a meal and a lighter.
In the interview, Eckersley allegedly admitted she had gone into labor around 4 p.m. on Christmas night, though she believed at the time that she was "constipated or hemorrhaging." She gave birth to her son between 11 p.m. and midnight, and it cried for about a minute but Eckersley allegedly claimed her boyfriend, George, told her after it stopped crying that the baby didn't have a pulse and she claimed to not know how to check for a pulse herself.
She and George then walked across the footbridge toward the arena to call an ambulance, allegedly because she couldn't get a signal to call 911 from their campsite — though she'd called for Chinese food earlier in the day. George, she allegedly told police, went back to the camp to retrieve his tablet and turn off the heater.
She then allegedly said the two decided to tell police she'd had the child near the baseball fields south of the arena in order to prevent police from confiscating their tent and other belongings, without which they would find it difficult to survive the winter. (Manchester, like other cities in New Hampshire, has been actively breaking up homeless encampments both large and small for several years, according to the Manchester Link and New Hampshire Public Radio.)
When asked why she hadn't brought the baby with her to call 911, she allegedly told the detective, "What do they tell you when a plane goes down? Save yourself first."
Asked how the baby would be expected to survive without her, Eckersley allegedly told the detective to go "f--k herself" and ended the interview.
Officers later determined from a friend that Eckersley allegedly knew she was pregnant.
Eckersley was arrested on an outstanding, unrelated warrant from Concord, New Hampshire for endangering the welfare of a child, according to a press release from the Manchester Police Department. She has since been charged with reckless conduct, endangering the welfare of a child, second-degree assault-extreme indifference and falsifying physical evidence, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com. Her defense has been assigned to the public defender's office.
Her bail was set at $3,000, according to the Link, with the condition that she have no contact with her son and live in either a sober living facility, with her parents, or in another approved residence.
Eckersley is the daughter of former Major League Baseball player and announcer Dennis Eckersley, who adopted her as an infant with his second wife, Nancy O'Neil Eckersley, according to a May 2019 profile of her published in the Concord Monitor. She met the reporter when she and her boyfriend were being evicted from their camp at the time.
Dennis Eckersley pitched for teams including the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and was voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004. He has also done broadcasting work as a color commentator for games and worked as an analyst for TBS' MLB coverage.
In the Concord Monitor piece, Alexandra Eckersley claimed to have moved to Concord, New Hampshire from her native Massachusetts in January 2018, staying in a tent with her then-boyfriend throughout that winter. Concord arrest records published by Patch indicate she's been arrested multiple times on drug, theft and other charges in the nearly five years since.
Her stepmother, Jennifer Eckersley, released a statement from Dennis and Nancy in response to the 2019 story.
"At age two Allie was diagnosed with mental illness,” the statement read, “which worsened considerably through the years, leading to multiple hospitalizations and eventually institutionalization.”
“As a family, we have been devoted to her health and wellbeing. We have given her unconditional love, nurturing and support. We have left no stone unturned in seeking the help, resources, programs and professionals she has needed throughout her life," the statement continued. “Once she became of legal age our ability to intervene on her behalf became far more limited.”
Alexandra Eckersley told the paper that she'd cycled through multiple facilities starting at age 6 for mental health and behavioral problems.
Eckersley — who was 22 at the time — told the reporter she'd been taking her medication, making doctor's appointments and had even checked herself into an emergency psychiatric unit for two days in order to "get back on track." She admitted to having made "mistakes" prior to 2018 that she was unwilling to discuss, but was upset that her parents weren't more accepting of her homelessness.
She claimed she'd called her parents in February 2019 to tell them she'd been accepted into New Hampshire Technical Institute and Granite State College, but felt that they were too focused on the fact that she was homeless to be happy for her. She talked to the reporter about her plans to get her education and help other homeless people get off the streets and other people with mental health problems get treatment.
But, she said, she didn't want to accept help from her parents.
“I don’t want to take the easy way out just because I want a home and an education," she told the reporter.
Her parents continued to emphasize their concern was with her mental health, not her homelessness.
"Unfortunately, in her situation, the issue is less about homelessness and more about mental illness," the statement read. "We continue to hope Allie seeks the mental health treatment she desperately needs so she can get her life back on track.”