Harrowing update for missing woman, newborn

Divers are seen searching the bank of the Cooks River after reports evidence of a birth were located on Monday. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Police divers are involved in a search for a woman who is believed to have given birth on the banks of a river in suburban Sydney, as the hunt for her child continues.

The alarm was raised when evidence of “the signs of birth” was found on the bank of Cooks River, near Wardell Rd, about 4.30pm on Monday

Detectives and uniformed officers have been seen scouring the area Tuesday morning. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Divers have been seen searching the bank of the Cooks River for any evidence connected to the mother or baby. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Burwood Police Area Commander Detective Chief Superintendent Christine McDonald confirmed on Tuesday police had found a placenta and an umbilical cord of a human near the river’s edge.

She said police were also investigating whether the newborn was disposed of after the birth.

“That will form part of our lines of inquiry,” Superindentand McDonald said when asked by reporters on Tuesday.

The placenta and umbilical cord had been sent to forensic testing as a priority in the hopes it could identify the mother.

Superintendent McDonald said police were unsure how the umbilical cord was detached.

She said police were “working against the clock” as investigators try to find further evidence while working with the tide of the river, which had come back in on Tuesday night.

Superintendent Christine McDonald said police are “deeply concerned” for the woman and her child.

“Child birth for many people can be a traumatic time and it can be very distressing,” she said.

“I am deeply concerned for the safety and mental health of the mother and also for the safety of her baby.

“I ask she comes forward to health services, to police or anyone who can offer support.

“I need to know she is safe.

“Time is very important in this scenario, we’ve obviously located a placenta and umbilical cord.

“There is no judgement, they need to know that we are concerned for them and that we are wanting to know they are safe.

“Childbirth requires a lot of health concerns.”

Police are urging the mother to attend her nearest hospital to receive urgent care for herself and her child. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Police are also doing line searches in the surrounding area and along the banks of the Cooks River. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Superintendent McDonald said a blood detection dog has since arrived on scene to assist the investigation.

Police divers are also searching the mangroves and waters edge of the Cook River and the crime scene investigation unit has been recalled to the site.

“We have located an area we need to do further forensic examination on,” Superintendent McDonald said.

“It’s right by the river in the mangroves, it’s particularly muddy down there so we just need to work through that.

“We’ve called crime scene officers back to the scene now to have a look and I’ll be able to provide an update in due course.”

Three suburbs converge where that road and river meet; police are asking anyone in the areas of Wardell Rd and Lang Rd, Earlwood, and Tennent Parade, Hurlstone Park and Ewen Park, Hurlstone Park on Monday afternoon, or who saw a woman in distress to contact Burwood Police or Crime Stoppers.

Superintendent McDonald urged anyone who has information should contact police.

“The gestation period is unknown, how long it was down by the river is unknown,” she said.

“There’s a lot of unknowns at the moment that’s why we’re asking anyone to come forward.”

A police spokeswoman said searches would continue on Tuesday.

The area around the crime scene houses multiple sporting fields, walking tracks and a kayak launching jetty. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

“Police hold serious concerns for the welfare of the child and its mother,” police say in a statement.

“Detectives have established a crime scene and have launched an investigation into the incident.”

A golf course, multiple sporting fields, a large playground and a kayak launching jetty are all in the immediate vicinity.

A resident walking his dog found what police believed to be placenta and an umbilical cord.

Police said tests on the organs revealed it was human matter.

Police have urged the mother to attend a hospital to receive urgent care for herself and her child.

Detective Chief Superintendent Christine McDonald is expected to provide an update on the case later on Tuesday morning. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

NSW Health minister Ryan Park also urged issued a desperate plea to the mother for her to seek help immediately.

“My heart absolutely goes out to this mother and her young baby,” he said.

“I want to say this very clearly to her if she’s listening, or if her friends and family who are no doubt in distress are listening. You’re not in trouble.”

He urged her to make her way to a hospitals.

“We are worried about you.

“We are worried about your health and we want to give you and your child the very, very best access to health care.”