Maybe the newborn boy took his last breaths in the cold trunk of the Volkswagen Beetle, his umbilical cord still attached.

Maybe he was already dead when he was stuffed into a tote bag under bloody clothes and stashed in the car trunk.

Either way, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood was seething about the discovery of the discarded child on a quiet street in suburban Drexel Hill on Monday night.

"The baby was entombed," an angry Chitwood told reporters at a news conference yesterday. "There's a lot of other options out there, instead of taking a small child and shoving it in a tote bag and sticking it in the trunk of a car."

Police suspect that the mother of the dead baby is a college student and the granddaughter of Albert Piscopo, 62, president and chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co., an investment firm for blue-chip clients.

Last night, Chitwood said investigators were planning to serve a search warrant on a person at a college in Philadelphia. "It's a young woman, obviously," Chitwood said. "We'll leave it at that."

The Volkswagen containing the body was parked in front of the stone, Windsor-style home of Piscopo and his wife, Joan. Sources close to the investigation said the car belongs to the Piscopos' daughter Stephanie Leone, who lives in a brick twin home about a mile away.

Arthur Donato, an attorney for the Piscopo family, said last night that the death is a tragic but "understandable family situation."

"What was done here, once it's explained properly, will be understandable," he said. "It doesn't justify it, but people are jumping to conclusions they shouldn't be jumping to."

Chitwood said it was unclear whether the newborn survived birth, but he said the baby had not been born prematurely. A medical examiner said last night that the cause of death was undetermined, pending further testing.

Chitwood said he called yesterday's news conference to ask for the public's help because detectives had hit a "brick wall" in the case.

"The brick wall is people refusing to cooperate with us," he said.

Donato said he was puzzled by Chitwood's statement, since it was Donato who called authorities after the baby was discovered in the trunk, he said.

Donato said that the car owner had met with police and had given them the keys to the vehicle. "We offered consent for any place they wanted to search," he said.

Donato said that police walked through the Piscopo residence Monday night but that yesterday, they brought a search warrant to Leone's home, even though a consensual search could have been arranged.

Donato said family members weren't available for police interviews yesterday because he was still assessing the facts and planning representation for all parties.

However, he said he had offered to give a summary of what happened to the district attorney's office.

"It's clear we're going to answer all [their] questions," Donato said last night. "I don't know why they expect that those questions would have been answered today."

Chitwood said the identity of the mother should be confirmed by DNA analysis, once the autopsy on the child is complete.

Chitwood hopes the public can help pinpoint who may have used the car in recent days.

The vehicle is a two-door, 2001 silver Beetle with a dark-colored interior and a sun roof. Anyone who might have information on the car is asked to call 610-734- 7677.

Chitwood said the baby was in the trunk at the bottom of a tote bag, underneath bloody street clothes and some mail.

"Somebody shoved the baby in the bottom of the tote bag and put clothing on top of it and other debris on top of it to hide it," he said. "So not only did they hide it in the bag, they hid it in the trunk."

Chitwood said the case should yield charges of "abuse of corpse," and more serious charges depending on the autopsy findings.

"If we can show . . . that one or many people are involved in it, they're all getting locked up," he said.

Neighbors of the Piscopos were shocked by the discovery of a dead baby on their block.

One of them, Athenaes Pappas, who lives next door, described the Piscopos as "the nicest people," and said she was troubled.

"I don't like it," she said. "Absolutely not." *