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Mother suspected of child endangerment after newborn baby found at Santa Rosa homeless camp

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A newborn baby from Santa Rosa was being treated at Oakland Children’s Hospital Wednesday after a homeless services worker and Santa Rosa police removed him from what they said was a dangerous situation in a homeless encampment under Highway 101.

The boy, about a week old, had significant medical problems, police said, without being more specific.

The mother, Jennifer Lynn Payment, 38, of Santa Rosa, was booked into Sonoma County Jail on a charge of child endangerment. She was scheduled for a court hearing Thursday.

Police were asked to help Tuesday after a homeless services worker said she’d found an infant child in the care of a homeless woman who was not his mother in a homeless camp under Highway 101 near Fifth Street.

The worker told police she knew the woman who had the baby and that she was known to have mental health issues and to be a narcotics abuser, police said.

The worker told police she took the baby to her car because it was cold out, and when she couldn’t find the mother in the camp, she left to alert police.

Officers discovered the boy had medical problems and called for an ambulance, which took the boy to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, police said. He was then transferred to Oakland Children’s Hospital.

Police continued to search for the mother at the campsite and other homeless residents eventually pointed out Payment, police said. She was uncooperative, refusing to identify herself or the infant, police said.

Witnesses told police she gave birth about a week prior in a recreational vehicle in the area. It was unknown if the boy had received any medical care.

Child Protective Services is assisting with the investigation.

Payment was being held in jail without bail.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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