A baby was found dead in a box inside the trunk of a vehicle at a repair shop in Richland County Tuesday.
According to Shelby police, the body was discovered in a car at Broadway Auto and Exhaust on North Gamble Street at about 2 p.m.
Police said the vehicle was taken to the repair shop for service several days ago, but as the mechanic worked on the car Tuesday, he noticed an odor.
According to the police chief, the mechanic investigated the source of the odor, opened the trunk and found a cardboard box. The mechanic said he set aside the box while trying to see if an animal had gotten into the trunk.
Police said the mechanic, Ron Hamilton, realized that the odor was coming from the box, and as he was taking the box to the curb for disposal, he opened it and found the body of a baby.
"I left the box outside because I was going to discard it later, and decided to get curious and open it up. That's when I discovered a baby inside the box, wrapped in a towel. It was devastating," Hamilton said.
He immediately called police, who questioned the 17-year-old girl who drove the car to the shop for repairs.
"Initially, she was very upset, crying. She calmed down a little big. She seemed to be relatively matter of fact about it," said Lance Combs, of Shelby police.
Police said the teenager admitted that the baby was hers, and that she had secretly given birth around the end of January or beginning of February.
According to police, the teen said she kept the pregnancy hidden from her boyfriend and family for months, giving birth at home in her bedroom. She said she hid the baby's body in a towel placed in a cardboard box.
When the baby was found, the body was so decomposed that officers said they could not tell if it was a boy or girl.
Investigators said they are waiting on forensic evidence to learn how the child died, and what, if any, charges will be filed.
"I'll probably have nightmares, but it's just one of those things you have to find it within yourself to deal with it," said Hamilton.