The family of a homeless woman who abandoned her newborn son in the woods on Christmas after allegedly giving birth to him in a freezing tent is fighting to become the infant’s guardian.
Alexandra Eckersley, 26, the daughter of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley was arrested on Monday after she misled police of the child’s location for over an hour before they found him ‘unclothed and struggling to breathe.’
In a heart-breaking statement sent to WCVB, the Eckersley family said they were ‘utterly devastated’ by the events that unfolded on Christmas night.
The statement touched on their daughter’s struggle with mental illness, her addiction to drugs, a lack of services and their unwavering support and love for her.
MLB legend Dennis Eckersley is fighting to be the guardian of his homeless and adopted daughter’s newborn after she allegedly abandoned him ‘unclothed and struggling to breath’ in the woods on Christmas
Alexandra Eckersley, 26, had allegedly given birth to her baby in a freezing tent and misled police because she worried her makeshift home in Manchester, New Hampshire, would be taken down
Alexandra allegedly misled police for 73 minutes, telling them the baby was born near the West Side Ice Arena around midnight, before they finally arrived at the tent, she shared with a man named George near the Piscataquag River at Electric Street.
When asked why she didn’t bring her baby to the bridge to meet with police after making the 911 call, she replied: ‘What do they tell you when a plane goes down? Save yourself first.’
The family referring to the 26-year-old, who was adopted by the MLB hall of famer with ex-partner Nancy O’Neill before the two split up following the end of his baseball career, by her nickname ‘Allie.’
‘It is heart-breaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances,’ the statement read.
‘We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock. We had no prior knowledge of Allie’s pregnancy.’
The family took a moment to thank first responders in Manchester New Hampshire for saving their ‘innocent’ grandson and to the hospital staff for everything they did to ensure his well-being.
‘Allie is our beloved daughter who we adopted at birth. Though it is painful to share, we feel it necessary to offer greater context of Allie’s circumstances and background,’ the statement continued.
The family took a moment to thank first responders for saving their ‘innocent’ grandson and to the hospital staff who ‘ensured’ his well-being after he was found in the woods (pictured)
Police allegedly found the baby uncovered and ‘struggling to breathe’ on the floor of a tent near the Piscataquag River
‘Allie has suffered from severe mental illness her entire life. Allie was hospitalized numerous times for her illness and lived in several residential programs. We did our very best to get Allie all of the help and support humanly possible.
‘Once Allie became an adult there was even less, we could do because she was legally free to make her own decisions as long as she was not a danger to herself or others.
The family went on to say they could not ‘force her to receive treatment’ but try to provide the young mother support where they can.
‘Since she was twenty, Allie chose to live on the streets in New Hampshire. As in many states, the mental health system in New Hampshire is broken,’ the statement said.
‘The state hospital used to have 2500 psychiatric beds. Now there are less than 200 for more than 1.2 million citizens and the state was forced to eliminate another 48 beds this fall because of staff shortages.’
The family said the system had failed their daughter.
‘Without adequate inpatient beds for crisis, treatment and stabilization, a state mental system fails,’ the statement continued.
‘We have always offered Allie a path home, but she has made other choices. We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues.
‘We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out.’
The tent was in the woods near the West Side Arena in Manchester. Officers found Allie’s baby laying on the ground next to a bed in a makeshift tent behind a blanket
At the time of the incident the young mother, who had not realized she was pregnant, was found wearing bloodstained clothes and was allegedly under the influence of drugs
The family have filed a petition for guardianship for Allie’s son who lived through 18-degree weather on Christmas night.
‘We are in the process of filing a guardianship petition so that we may receive information and have decision making with respect to Allie’s son,’ the statement said.
‘We thank you for your support and prayers for this beautiful, innocent baby boy. We hope people understand what an agonizing situation this is, and we respectfully ask for privacy.
‘Accordingly, we will have no further comment on this matter for the time being.’
Officers found Allie’s baby laying on the ground next to a bed in a makeshift tent behind a blanket after they ‘noticed a trail of blood that appeared to run down the side of the bed,’ the police report, viewed by the Boston Globe, said.
The baby was still alive when officers, found him and he was rushed to Catholic Medical Center before being airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Allie appeared in court virtually while being treated at a hospital on Tuesday.
Her bail had been set at $3,000, in order to be released she would also have to find a sober living home or accommodation with relatives, and must stay away from her son.
At the time of the incident the young mother, who had not realized she was pregnant, was found wearing bloodstained clothes and was under the influence of drugs, the outlet reported.
The 26-year-old appeared in court virtually and had her bail set at $3,000. She would also have to find a sober living home, not her tent (pictured), or accommodation with relatives, and must stay away from her son
She was charged with reckless conduct, endangering a child, and two other charges. She was arrested on a separate warrant out of Concord District Court on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child
She was charged with reckless conduct, endangering a child, and two other charges. She was arrested on a separate warrant out of Concord District Court on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Allie claimed she gave birth in the tent with George present and had allegedly told police that the baby ‘cried immediately after birth, however, it was for less than a minute,’ the police report said.
‘Once she gave birth, she did not know what to do,’ police said.
She called authorities at 12.06am and went to meet the ambulance while George went back to the tent to turn off his tablet and propane heater, leaving the baby behind.
Allie and George had agreed prior to police arriving they would not lead officers to their tent in fear it would be torn down and taken away, leaving them without shelter during the winter.
‘Eckersley admitted that she had a conversation with George where they agreed to tell the police that the incident occurred at the soccer fields so that the police would not find and take their tents,’ the police report said.
‘During this portion of the interview Eckersley was stating that it is very hard to survive if they had lost their tent because of the cold temperatures during the winter in Manchester. Eckersley stated that this is the reason they turned off the propane heat.’
Outreach workers who had interacted with Eckersley in October were shocked to learn that she was pregnant, as she did not appear to be when they last saw her.
‘She never once mentioned she was pregnant, and if you looked at her, you would never have known,’ Sara Tofanelli, who said she does not condone what Allie did, told the Boston Globe.
Alexandra is the adopted daughter of MLB Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher and broadcaster Dennis Eckersley (pictured in 1975)
Between 1975 and 1998 he pitched in MLB for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals
Both workers said the MLB famer’s daughter struggled with mental illness and substance abuse and had been homeless for the past five years.
One of the workers, Carol M. Lizotte, said Eckersley isn’t the person ‘she’s being painted to look like’ and that the new mom had even wished her a Merry Christmas on Facebook.
‘She has the potential to be a wonderful mother…It’s not all her fault. She’s actually a victim in this case just as much as the baby,’ Lizotte said.
‘It’s this whole gigantic, messy picture. What we’re seeing happen to this young woman and her baby is very, very bad, but it’s indicative of a much larger picture, a much larger problem.’
Tofanelli agreed, saying: ‘Mental health is the primary issue. Without mental health concerns, there was no reason for this.’
Eckersley is the adopted daughter of MLB Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher and broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.
Dennis, nicknamed ‘Eck,’ was an American professional baseball pitcher and former commentator.
Between 1975 and 1998 he pitched in MLB for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
The 68-year-old gained prominence after becoming the first of two pitchers in major league history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career.
Dennis Eckersley, nicknamed ‘Eck,’ was an American professional baseball pitcher and former commentator who adopted Alexandra with his ex-partner Nancy O’Neil
The 68-year-old gained prominence after becoming the first of two pitchers in major league history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career
He played 24 seasons and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.
Alexandra, also known affectionately as Allie, is the daughter of Dennis and Nancy O’Neil, his second wife. She also has a brother named Jake.
In 2019, the Concord Monitor reported that Alexandra struggles with mental illness and substance abuse. She suffers from bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
‘I want to begin a homeless mental health awareness event,’ Alexandra said at the time.
‘Have it be like the telethon, or a carnival where you pay to get in, or a movie night and the money goes to a housing shelter.’
O’Neil and Eckersley divorced shortly after his retirement from baseball.
His third wife Jennifer, who is former lobbyist and manages the baseball legend’s business and charitable affairs, spoke to the Concord Monitor in 2019.
Speaking to the outlet she revealed how Alexandra came to be in the ‘painful situation’ she found herself in.
‘As you can imagine, this is an incredibly private and painful situation,’ she wrote.
‘Dennis and Nancy decline speaking to you about it, as it’s simply too painful. Instead, the family offers this statement:
‘As a family, we have been devoted to her health and wellbeing. We have given her unconditional love, nurturing and support.
‘We have left no stone unturned in seeking the help, resources, programs and professionals she has needed throughout her life.
‘Once she became of legal age, our ability to intervene on her behalf became far more limited.’