Investigators spent five days searching dense vines and marshes for a missing infant, only to find her lying quietly in a small cedar box hidden under her baby sitter's bed.
Clothing was packed around it to muffle any sounds and baking powder placed inside to mask the stench of dirty diapers.
Authorities say the baby's mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, gave her to baby sitter Susan Elizabeth Baker early Saturday, then reported her missing about 10 hours later.
Sheriff Bobby Haddock choked up yesterday as he described how 7-month-old Shannon Dedrick was stashed in the box for 12 straight hours before investigators discovered her Wednesday.
They believe she had been in the box on and off for several days before that.
"She was way back under the bed," he said. "But she was not crying."
Baker had written a letter to Gov Charlie Crist's office in August, pleading for help for the baby and claiming her father shook her and both parents did drugs in front of her.
She asked Mercer today if she could have permanent custody, Haddock said. Officials do not believe Shannon's father, who is Baker's stepbrother, was involved in the disappearance.