A 2-month-old girl was pronounced dead after she was found naked alongside another young girl and a woman – all of them covered in white powder – behind a market in the Historic South-Central neighborhood of Los Angeles early Thursday morning.
About 1:44 a.m., police responded to the rear parking lot of Numero Uno Market near the intersection of East 23rd and South San Pedro streets after someone reported hearing screaming, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Mike Rimkunas said.
Officers found a 26-year-old woman, an 8-year-old girl, and the 2-month-old down in the parking lot with a white powdery substance around and on their bodies, Rimkunas said.
All three were unclothed, and the baby wasn’t breathing.
They were all taken to a local hospital, where the youngest girl was pronounced dead, Rimkunas said. The cause of death is unknown.
A hazmat crew determined the white substance was some type of baby product, police said.
The older girl was in critical condition and the woman is in stable condition, authorities said. Police initially said the woman and older girl were both in stable condition, but later updated the information.
There were no signs of injury on any of the victims, Rimkunas said.
The operator of a nearby liquor store told the Los Angeles Times the trio were seen outside the store on Wednesday night. They were naked and covered in the powder, and the woman was breastfeeding the baby, the store owner said.
Security footage from the store also captured the woman trying to open car doors in the parking lot.
LAPD Lt. Chris Ramirez confirmed to the Times that the woman and children had been seen wandering around the neighborhood, naked.
"It is an unusual case. It doesn't happen a lot and it's very unfortunate because here we lost an innocent life. A child was taken at such a young age who had a whole life ahead of her," Ramirez told KTLA.
A second investigation is taking place about three blocks from the market, in the 1100 block of East 22nd Street, where the same powdery substance was found, Ramirez said. He told the Times an assault with a deadly weapon complaint was made on Wednesday night to a home where the woman is believed to live, but investigators found no sign of a crime.
Police are trying to determine the relationship between the woman and the two girls, but believe she could be their mother.
There were no suspects and no one was in custody, Rimkunas said.
KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.