James Currie in court on Friday (Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock)
The man who police believe threw his dead baby’s body into the East River returned to the United States on Thursday night and was in court on Friday.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea had said earlier this week that Mason Saldana, 7 months old, was given to Currie for his scheduled visitation on August 4. On August 5, he was seen leaving his Bronx apartment with the baby in a backpack fashioned as a baby carrier. Shea said that investigators believe the baby was dead at that time, and noted that Currie was seen on surveillance footage with the backpack walking near the South Street Seaport and heliport toward the river that afternoon.
Around 4 p.m. on Sunday, Mason was spotted floating in the East River, near the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side, that afternoon, and taken out by a concerned tourist. The baby was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
According to the Daily News, “Accessing his MTA-issued MetroCard, investigators learned that Currie boarded a bus in the Bronx, then entered the subway station on at 23rd St. in Manhattan on Sunday. At about 4 p.m., he entered the transit system again, this time at Chambers St. Cops recovered video surveillance of Currie at the Chambers St. station, but he didn’t have his baby with him.”
The baby’s mother called 911 on Monday night, saying that her child didn’t appear at day care and then broke down while saying she heard on the news that a baby was discovered in the river.
Currie had fled to Thailand, and once there, he texted the baby’s mother. The Post reports, “In response to a text from the boy’s distraught mother asking where her 7-month-old was, [Currie] replied, ‘the good news we [sic] will never see each other again.’ He then told her that ‘I am not in the usa’ and ‘you will never see [the victim] again.'”
The Medical Examiner’s office is still determining the baby’s cause of death. Currie, an MTA employee, was held without bail. Currie’s lawyer said, “Everybody needs to keep an open mind and not convict this man until there is evidence that he did something wrong.”