UPDATE: Missing baby found safe in Elkhart, mother arrested

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. South Bend and Elkhart police have found a missing nine-month-old female baby.

A massive search was launched Sunday evening for Bethany Ann Gipperich, a South Bend baby whose whereabouts had been uknown for long as five days. She was found Sunday night in Elkhart.

"Details are very sketchy," said Capt. Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Dept. "We just learned that Elkhart Police located our missing child after a bit of investigative back and forth with them."

Department of Child Services has taken custody of the child. Police say she is in good health.

The child's mother, Heather Gipperich, 31, has been arrested for felony neglect.

"In the end, she was cooperative in trying to locate her child but again it's a shame that it had to come to this," Capt. Trent said.

Police said Gipperich was confused and not able to tell police where she had been since Tuesday. She returned to her mother's house Sunday without her baby.

Police acknowledged that Gipperich has a criminal history in Broward County, Florida. Several of those charges were for drug possesion and police say drugs could have been a factor in the current charges of neglect.

"We believe it does," Capt. Trent said. "We've got some anecdotal evidence that family members have given us and we're going to use that as part of our basis to kind of figure out what he situation was when the baby did go missing."

Gipperich told investigators she had spent time with a woman named "Amber" over the last few days but did not provide a last name or address for this individual. Police tell NewsCenter 16 that that lead turned out to be a dead end.

According to South Bend Police, Heather has some serious personal issues and seems to be "out of it."

Heather's mother filed the missing person report on Saturday. Police are now trying to piece together Heather's whereabouts.Trent also said he did not believe this is a kidnapping case.

"This has been first and foremost an effort to try to locate this child and now that the baby's in our hands we can sort of now investigate and sort out what transpired," Trent said.

The investigation is now in the hands of the Special Victims Unit and the Department of Child Services.

Police say the caregiver with whom the child was found was not aware that the baby had been reported missing.

South Bend Police wanted to thank the Elkhart Police Dept. and the many people who come forward with information. Police say they also used cell phone pinging technology to help locate people who had been in contact with the missing baby in recent days.

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