Solving the case of a deceased infant found Thursday is going to take more than just the Columbia Police Department, department officials said Friday.

Investigators will be consulting with an anthropologist to uncover clues that can help identify the child found Thursday at McKnight Plaza off Providence Road, Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter said.

When found, the child’s remains were too decomposed for investigators to identify a number of important characteristics, Hunter said. These unknowns include the child’s race, sex, age and how long the child was at the scene. Investigators hope that an anthropologist trained to identify characteristics of human remains may be able to answer some of these questions.

As details continue to trickle in, members of the neighboring community have expressed concern that too little information has been released by authorities. Danielle Preyer, whose home on Newton Drive abuts McKnight Plaza, said she was not contacted by police regarding the child even though she was home Thursday afternoon. Neither was Ashley Welch, who lives up the street and was home around then, as well.

The department also received criticism after a member of the city’s Community Relations team posted photos of police officers smiling outside the scene where the child was found Thursday. The pictures were submitted as part of City Hall Selfie Day, a day dedicated to celebrating Columbia’s public servants, according to a news release from the city.

“We understand that this was not an appropriate situation or location for these types of photos to be taken and we sincerely apologize to our community, on behalf of the unknown infant child, and to the Columbia Police Department,’’ city spokesperson Steven Sapp said in the statement.

The child was found Thursday by an employee of McKnight Tire, officials said. To help in their investigation, officials are encouraging the community to provide any additional leads by calling the Columbia Police Department at 874-7423. Leads are already being received and investigated, according to a news release issued Friday.

Supervising editor is Tom Coulter.

  • I'm a Public Safety & Health beat reporter at the Columbia Missourian, with past lives as a data scientist, academic researcher and defense contractor. You can reach me at

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