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Palmdale landfill searched for remains of missing infant; parents arrested in Utah

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators began searching the Antelope Valley landfill for the remains of an infant who went missing in Palmdale earlier this month, law enforcement announced Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, this started with the disappearance of a baby and is now a death investigation,” Lt. Omar Camacho told the Times. “We’re looking for (the landfill) based on where the investigation took us, and unfortunately we didn’t find anything today.”

The missing child, Baki Dewees, was born April 14 and was last seen in Palmdale on May 3, according to a flyer distributed by his family on Facebook.

“My family and I are desperately asking for your help,” the child’s great-aunt wrote on Facebook. “Baki is only 3 weeks old. Please help us bring Baki back to his grandmother.

Two days after giving birth, the mother, Rosealani Gaoa, 25, was arrested in Ogden, Utah, on suspicion of aggravated child abuse, intentional child abuse and reckless child abuse, according to jail records.

At the time, Camacho said, Gaoa’s four children and the baby’s father were all with her in Utah. Subsequently, Family Protective Services took custody of the child at the center of the abuse allegations. Camacho posed further questions about the nature of this case to Ogden officials.

“We did not investigate this matter, nor did we have any details,” he said, noting that the alleged abuse occurred in Utah.

A police source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the victim This is Baki’s older sister.

After Gaoa’s arrest, the children’s father, Yusuf Dewees, 24, left Utah with the couple’s three remaining children and returned to Palmdale, authorities said.

But he returned to Ogden several days later, possibly so authorities could question him, Camacho said. Jail records show he was arrested May 7 and held without bail on suspicion of obstructing justice and making a false statement.

The law enforcement source, not authorized to speak publicly, said Dewees was arrested after being questioned about Baki’s disappearance and allegedly lied to Ogden police. Camacho did not specify whether the alleged obstruction stemmed from the incidents in California or Utah.

Ogden police Lt. Glen Buss said Utah police first contacted Dewees and Gaoa at a homeless shelter. He referred additional questions about the nature of their arrest to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, saying the two departments were working collaboratively.

The case came to the attention of Sheriff’s Department officials after the child’s grandmother reported him missing around May 8. Deputies responded to the 2300 block of Carolyn Drive in Palmdale regarding her call, according to a news release. Camacho said the case was turned over to the department’s homicide bureau a day later. On Tuesday, he said it was still too early in the investigation to release information about why authorities believe the child died or how his death is suspected.

Researchers who began searching the landfill Tuesday were looking for “specific things,” Camacho said. But he added that finding the child’s remains could prove a difficult undertaking that could require cutting through layers of waste. The research could use machines or cadaver dogs, he said, but “sometimes the only possible method is only with human hands.”

Authorities will resume their search on Wednesday, according to the police source, who indicated that the couple lived in Palmdale.

“If we believed the child was still alive, we would have asked the public for help,” Camacho said. “But right now, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Now we’re just trying to bring closure to the family.

The other two California children have since been removed by child welfare officials, Camacho said. It was unclear why the family was in Utah.

California Daily Newspapers

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