When 17-year-old Tiona Rodriguez was pulled aside by a security guard in a Victoria’s Secret store in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon, something more troubling than stolen underwear was found at the bottom of her bag.
A foul odor emanating from her bag led the guard to look inside it, and he found a dead fetus wrapped in a plastic bag, clothes and undergarments, a source told the New York Daily News. The fetus showed no signs of trauma but will be autopsied to determine exactly how the baby died.
Rodriguez told police she was about six months pregnant when she miscarried on Wednesday and did not know what to do with the remains, NBC New York reports. While Rodriguez was not charged with a crime relating to the baby, she and her friend Francis Estevez were charged with petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
On Oct. 16, Rodriguez posted a Facebook comment, complaining, “these Cramps SON.”
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Since the incident, the teen who attends Bushwick Academy in Brooklyn, has had a slew of supportive comments posted on her Facebook wall.
“Hope everything is okay tiona hold ya head up baby girl,” Monae Spearman posted on Friday.
“Baby Girl Keep Your Head Up, None Of These People Know You Like We Do !! I Love You Baby No Matter What!!!” Kyvie Elesion Ticaa posted on Thursday.
“No matter what happens, keep your head high and your spirits even higher…” Andrew Ballard added.
Others have been critical of Rodriguez and voiced their opinions on her Facebook page. “This is what u call a hoodrat (sic) at its finest!! her reasons for doing it dont f*in matter. if didnt want to get pregnant she should have closed those tired dirty legs of her or go to the free clinic and get condoms,” Rosa Reyes posted.
“Hope you go jail you dirty little bicth (sic) killin baby smh,” a user identified as Young Rich posted.
Rodriguez, who has a 2-year-old son, is listed on Facebook as being in a relationship with Shakim Pierre, who appears to be the baby’s father. “My son only 2 but be acting like a lil grown ass man, it's to soon for me to be tellin him to enjoy his childhood,” Pierre posted on Oct. 7.
A photo posted on Rodriguez’s Facebook page on Oct. 15 – the day before she reportedly miscarried – shows her at school next to a friend. Wearing camouflage pants, a jean jacket and a scarf, her abdomen is covered by her hand holding a soda bottle, and by all appearances there is no “baby bump.”
“School looking a hot mess today w. my wifeee,” she posted alongside the photo.
Francis Estevez, 17, who was with Rodriguez at the time of the incident, also appears to be a teenage mother. Photos of an infant girl are posted on her Facebook page.
The medical examiner’s office was performing an autopsy on the fetus’ remains. It remains unclear if the baby was alive or stillborn when delivered, the Associated Press reports.
Following the discovery of the dead fetus at the Victoria’s Secret store in Manhattan’s Herald Square, Rodriguez was examined at Bellevue Hospital, while Estevez was taken in for questioning by police. Neighbors who are familiar with Rodriguez and have seen her recently said she didn’t look pregnant.
"They asked me if I had seen a lump or if she recently was pregnant, and I told them 'I couldn't really tell,' because she was always a little heavy," Ricardo Salazar, one of her Brooklyn neighbors, told NBC New York. "But in a way, I guess she was."