WATERVILLE — A 12-week-old infant died Wednesday at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Ticonic Street, Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey confirmed Thursday.

The cause of the infant’s death was unknown as of Thursday.

State police are investigating the case with assistance from Waterville police, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

“We investigate all children’s deaths under the age of three, so the fact that we’re investigating, with Waterville police, is not to be considered suspicious,” McCausland said. “I don’t know the specifics of this case other than there is no initial indication of foul play.”

Waterville police were called to the shelter for an infant not breathing at 11:26 a.m. Wednesday, Rumsey said. He referred further questions about the case to state police.

Betty Palmer, the shelter’s executive director said Thursday afternoon that efforts were taken Wednesday to revive the infant.

“The bottom line is that it was a tragic incident,” she said. “There wasn’t anything more that we could have done. Our staff all were recently certified in CPR and first aid through the Red Cross. Every attempt was made by us, every attempt was made by the emergency services and the police and the hospital. It was his (baby’s) time, and he went to sleep and did not wake up.”

Palmer said she could not release the infant’s name or any information that might “interfere with fact-finding” in the case.

“We always want answers when a baby dies,” she said.

Palmer said a disturbing fact is that there has been a huge increase in the number of infants and children who are homeless. The increase at the shelter started last October and November, she said.

“One out of every four guests are children,” she said. “Just today we got several calls about other families with infants and families with 16-year-olds and 10-year olds. It’s a rude awakening that we have so many infants here. Homelessness does increase the chances of early death.”

Officials from Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area have come to the shelter to help with the grieving process, Palmer said.

“They have been wonderful — for guests, staff and for me. We couldn’t thank them enough.”

She said she could not discuss whether the baby has a family living at the shelter, but she did say the shelter does not take children or infants without an accompanying adult.

She said emergency workers and local and state police were kind, gentle, professional and supportive to everyone at the shelter on Wednesday.

Palmer became executive director of the 18-bed shelter after former executive director Mike Marston resigned in October for health reasons. She previously was assistant executive director.

Homeless advocates plan to start building a new, 40-bed shelter on Colby Circle later this year, to meet the high demand.

A campaign kickoff for the new shelter is planned for 10:30 a.m. Monday at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]