Eric Canku of Chandler held his month-old son for the last time on Oct. 24.
The next day, Chandler police say, the boy’s mother intentionally drowned the infant in the bathtub.
Canku, 19, said there were no warning signs that Jenna Folwell, also 19, was sad, overwhelmed or just didn’t like their child, Rainer Canku-Folwell, for some inexplicable reason.
“She had so many options and she chose the worst one,’’ Canku said. “She could have told me to take him. I would have taken him and raised him myself.’’
Fighting back tears during a press conference at police headquarters on Oct. 25, Canku pleaded with any parent who is overwhelmed by a child’s birth to seek help.
“I just don’t know what kind of person would do that to an innocent child. She took away the best thing I had in my life,’’ Canku said.
Chandler police arrested Folwell on suspicion of first-degree murder after finding Rainer’s tiny body wet, wrapped in two blankets and hidden in a duffle bag stored inside a cabinet in the Chandler apartment where she lived with her parents.
Folwell first called police and claimed the baby had been abducted from her car.
She then said she took Rainer into a bathtub full of water, court documents state, and that she either fainted or passed out, and, when she became alert again, found Rainer floating face down.
After police obtained a search warrant, they found 100 different searches in Folwell’s cell phone on such topics as “ways to die instantly,’’ five types of parents who kill and reasons why parents kill babies, the court document said.
When confronted about the incriminating search history, “Folwell admitted to getting into the bathtub with her son and then letting him go,’’ the court document said. “Jenna said she settled on this way because she did not want to hear her baby cry.’’
Detective Seth Tyler, a police spokesman, said Folwell never explained to detectives why she wanted to kill Rainer. He said she lived within walking distance of Chandler Regional Hospital, where she could have sought help and likely would have never faced criminal prosecution.
Although the state Safe Haven Law gives parents of newborns 72-hours to turn them in at a fire station or a hospital – with no questions asked unless there are signs of abuse – the last thing on the minds of police in such an abandonment situation is making an arrest, he said.
“We’re not worried about charges there,’’ Tyler said. “We want to help them and help that child.’’
“What happened was tragic and senseless. It also was inexcusable,’’ Tyler said. “If she said she couldn’t take care of her baby, someone would have.’’
Tyler said police first learned about the case at 1:30 p.m., when Folwell called them from Brooks Crossing Park.
Folwell told police a man had placed a plastic bag over her head and threatened to kill her as she attempted to put her baby into her car. She claimed the baby had been abducted.
Police started searching for the baby, but they also went to Folwell’s apartment, where they found the door open and no one apparently home, Tyler said.
Canku said he was friends with Folwell, but that the two no longer had a romantic relationship. He said he would typically take care of Rainer two days a week and Folwell was supposed to allow him to care for the baby on Wednesday night.
He said he wants justice in the case and that he doesn’t think Folwell should ever walk out of prison a free woman.
“Please grab your child and tell them you love them. You don’t know if the next day, they will be gone,’’ Canku said.