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Thread: Baby Hope Solved

  1. #1

    ice Baby Hope Solved

    Dozens of children were playing in the fountain at a playground in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights on Tuesday morning. Parents watched from the shade, while teenagers relaxed on benches beneath hulking trees.

    Exactly 22 years ago, a wooded area not far from the playground was the scene where a serious, and still unsolved, crime was discovered. At approximately 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23, 1991, highway workers found a blue and white picnic cooler in the park near the Dyckman Street exit off the Henry Hudson Parkway. Inside was the body of a dead child, an unidentified female between 3 and 5 years old, who would come to be known as Baby Hope.
    No missing person report was ever filed, and tests revealed that the girl had been starved and sexually abused. Detectives kept looking for answers, but years passed and none came. They have not found the baby’s family and they have not learned her name. Yet over two decades later, the police are still trying to close the case.
    On Tuesday, officers roamed the blocks in front of the playground on Dyckman Street, speaking to residents and offering a $12,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and a conviction in the case. A Police Department Crime Stoppers van circled the neighborhood, equipped with loudspeakers that broadcast a plea for tips. “The New York City Police Department needs your help,” it blared, in English and Spanish, before providing some details of the case. Officers stood on street corners, putting up posters and handing out fliers with two police sketches of how the victim might have looked in 1991.
    “We are asking the public’s help to identify this child,” Detective Robert Dewhurst, of the department’s Cold Case squad, said as he stood in front of the Crime Stoppers van. “Obviously, somebody had to know her.”
    Baby Hope was buried in St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx in 1993, but her body was exhumed for DNA testing in 2007 by the medical examiner’s office. At the time, however, biologists could not extract any DNA because the condition of her bones was too poor. Another attempt was made in 2011, using an improved extraction process, and the medical examiner’s office was able to obtain a complete DNA profile.
    But again, the mystery remained. Baby Hope’s DNA yielded no matches with DNA databases of convicted felons or active missing person cases.
    Despite having no new information about the case, investigators hoped that publicizing information about it might prod those with information, and who might have been afraid to do so in the past, to come forward. “Everything about this case is already out there,” said Sgt. Carlos Nieves, a police spokesman. “They’re hoping that somebody who hasn’t come out sees this.”
    One officer, clutching fliers, stood on the corner of Broadway and Dyckman Street. “We’re trying to target the older people,” he said. “A lot of people remember.”
    Cold case detectives are banking on those memories, and appeared confident on Tuesday that solving the murder was not a lost cause. “We deal with things over 20 years old and even longer at times, and we do have success,” Detective Dewhurst said, adding, “That’s the purpose of the squad.”

  2. #2

    Default Re: Police Still Seeking Identity of Girl’s Body Found in ’91

    Baby Hope was identified as Angelica Castillo.

    The tip that finally solved the case of Baby Hope: Conversation overheard in laundromat led police to 4-year-old's COUSIN, 52, who admitted her rape and murder as details of her sad life emerge

    Conrado Juarez, 52, told police he killed his 4-year-old cousin Anjelica Castillo and dumped her body inside a picnic cooler in the woods

    The child had been starved, sexually abused and suffocated to death

    She was never reported missing and no one came forward with any leads as to her identity
    Juarez claimed his sister brought the cooler for him to dispose of the girl

    The NYPD cracked the murder case of 'Baby Hope' after 22-years when an anonymous tipster who overheard a conversation in a laundromat led police to the sister of the four-year-old girl - and eventually, Conrado Juarez, who has confessed to killing the child.

    Following a media blitz over the summer as the NYPD marked the 22nd anniversary of her death, a Manhattan mom phoned police to say that two years ago she listened in as a lady said her little sister had died and may have been killed.
    Using old-fashioned detective work, police found that woman was the sister of 'Baby Hope' and in turn that led them to the girl's mother - and to identify the dead child as Anjelica Castillo through DNA matches over two decades after her brutal killing.
    Having discovered the child's family, police built up a family tree, discovering that 'Baby Hope's' mother - who is not being identified - has nine children by three fathers and is part of a sprawling family tree that includes relatives in New York and Mexico.
    They also finally discovered the girl's name after more than two decades was Anjelica Castillo, age 4.
    Her mother never reported her daughter missing, allegedly because she feared deportation and when police confronted her about this, she blamed Angelica's father who had custody at the time of her death.
    'She’s a piece of s***,' one law-enforcement source said of the mother to the New York Post. 'She tried to put all responsibility on the father

    Detectives solved the decades-old mystery of 'Baby Hope,' a little girl whose body was discovered inside a picnic cooler beside a Manhattan highway in 1991, and arrested a relative of the child Saturday after he admitted he sexually assaulted and smothered her, police said on Saturday.
    Conrado Juarez, 52, was arrested and arraigned on a felony murder charge. He pleaded not guilty.
    Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges, chief of the cold case unit and the original prosecutor on the case in 1991, told a judge at Juarez's arraignment that he had admitted sexually abusing the child before smothering her. Mourges said Juarez then enlisted the aid of his sister who helped him dispose of the body.
    They were cousins of the girl's father, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

    The girl's name, age and circumstances of her death were unknown for more than two decades. But earlier this week, police announced that a new tip and a DNA test had allowed them to finally identify the baby's mother, a dramatic turnaround in one of the city's more notorious cold cases.
    The child's naked, malnourished corpse was discovered on July 23, 1991, beside the Henry Hudson Parkway by construction workers who smelled something rotten. Detectives thought she might have been suffocated but had few other clues as to what happened.
    The case became an obsession for some investigators who nicknamed the girl 'Baby Hope.' Hundreds of people attended a funeral for the unknown girl in 1993. Her body was exhumed for DNA testing in 2007, and then again in 2011.

    In July, detectives tried another round of publicity on the 22nd anniversary of the discovery. They canvassed the neighborhood where her body was found, hung fliers, circulated sketches of the girl and a photograph of the cooler and announced a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
    Former detective Jerry Giorgio, who had the case from 1991 until his retirement over the summer, said he remained confident the case could be solved. Assistant Chief Joseph Reznick, who also worked the case, said they never gave up.
    'I think reflecting back on what we named this little girl, Baby Hope, I think it's the most accurate name we could have come up with,' Reznick said.
    Giorgio left the NYPD and went to the Manhattan district attorney's cold case squad, from which he retired this year. 'I missed the tipster call by a couple of weeks, damn it,' he said.
    The tipster, who saw the recent news stories on the case, led police to Anjelica's sister, who told detectives she thought her sister had been killed. Police matched DNA from Anjelica to their mother.
    The mother, who was not identified, didn't have custody of Anjelica at the time of the girl's death — she had been living with relatives on the father's side, including Balvina Juarez-Ramirez, police said.
    Juarez-Ramirez is the sister of Juarez. Police closed in on the suspect and waited for him Friday outside a Manhattan restaurant where he worked as a dishwasher in Manhattan at Bleecker Street restaurant Pesce Pasta.
    He told them he noticed Anjelica while visiting the family apartment and killed her, police said.
    He told police that on the night of Anjelica's death he arrived home drunk said Jerry Giorgio, a detective who worked on the case when it first broke 22-years-ago.
    'It was nighttime, and she was in the hallway for some reason — maybe she was going to the bathroom,' Giorgio said.
    'He said he just took her by the hand and she went with him.'
    'She may at one point have started to yell or scream, looking for help. That’s when he put the pillow over her face.'

    Then, the sister got the blue cooler — which still contained full cans of Coke. They took a livery cab from Queens to Manhattan where they dumped the cooler, then separated.
    'A tip produced a lot of investigative work, and with great detective work we were able to track people down and interview them,' Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
    Jerry Giorgio said that Juarez described his own behavior as 'ugly, ugly' and said that Angelica would have died anyway, because she was being so badly cared for.
    'She was better off dead, I’m sorry to say, because they were starving her. She was skeletal. In six more months she would have died. I mean, she was 28 pounds and 4  years old. That poor thing,' said Giorgio.
    'I hope he’s miserable every day of his life,' Giorgio added.
    Her parents never reported her missing, though they had contact with the suspect. Juarez had never been considered a suspect before. Police refused to say whether he had previous arrests or had been accused in other sexual assaults.
    Kelly called the arrest a superb case of detective work, and said he was proud of his officers.
    'For me, it makes you proud to be a member of this organization — they were unrelenting,' he said.

    The detectives assigned to the case were instrumental in organizing a burial in a Bronx cemetery for the girl in 1993. Hundreds attended the funeral; Reznick gave the eulogy. The girl was dressed in a white frock and buried in a white coffin.
    The detectives paid for the girl's headstone that reads: 'Because we care.'
    District Attorney Cy Vance credited the efforts of the police and tireless members of his office with the arrest.
    'Cold cases are not forgotten cases. Today's arrest of the man charged with killing Anjelica in 1991 is an extraordinary example of police work,' he said, adding that Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges, who responded on the day Anjelica's body was was discovered, had 'worked the case ever since.'
    Juarez's sister and Anjelica's caretaker, Balbena Ramirez, have since passed away.
    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement Saturday that investigators never gave up on Anjelica.
    'They made it their mission to identify this young child, to lay her to rest and to bring her killer to justice,' he said.

    Conrado Juarez, a dishwasher at a Manhattan restaurant, reportedly told detectives that in 1991, Anjelica was lived with his sister in Queens while her parents were going through a separation, the New York Post reported.

    On the night of the murder, Juarez, who lived in The Bronx, arrived at his sister's home drunk and ran into the toddler in the hallway. According to the suspect's confession, he attacked Anjelica, sexually assaulted her and then smothered the child to death.

    The arrest comes just two days after child, previously known by the nickname 'Baby Hope,' was identified as Anjelica Castillo, which was discovered when police tracked down the girl's mother after receiving a tip from a woman who believed she knew the older sister of the slain girl.

    The sister told investigators she remembers traveling to Mexico with her father after leaving Anjelica with her mother and then never seeing her again.
    After releasing a sketch of the girl in July when the NYPD were making a renewed push to solve the decades-old case, police tracked down her mother - who has not been identified - in Washington Heights, the New York Post reports.
    The mother told police she did not want to call them because her partner was abusive. She last saw him in 1991 when he took the children and told her to 'disappear' before slamming a door in her face.
    One of her daughters was brought back to her through a relative but Anjelica was never seen again.

    The mother said she 'tried to find out about them, and to see them, but she says he told her to get lost', a police source said, and she wondered for 22 years what happened to her child.
    Police have obtained the birth certificate that identified Anjelica, although other information, such as the date and place of birth, were not revealed.
    She was found tied with rope and squeezed into a picnic cooler beneath full cans of Coca-Cola off the Henry Hudson Parkway. Tests revealed she had been sexually abused.

    NYPD Assistant Chief Joe Reznick, who was running the 34th Precinct Detective Squad when the tragic girl was found told the Daily News: 'As the years increased, the frustration increased with those years and the optimism declined a little bit.

    'But I never lost faith. I gotta admit, I never lost faith. The real thing is a feeling of relief.'
    Police have conducted follow-up interviews and confirmed the mother's identity using scientific evidence, a source told the New York Times.

    No names were being released as the case remains a murder investigation and no charges have been brought so far.
    In July, around the 22nd anniversary of the unsolved case, police circulated the neighborhood around Dyckman Street in Washington Heights near the wooded area where the child was found, speaking to residents and offering a $12,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
    The little girl had been malnourished and tests showed she had endured sexual abuse and she died of asphyxia.

    She was naked except for a hair-tie with yellow plastic baubles on it. She had black hair and was white, possibly Hispanic.
    The child was badly decomposed, making her facial features unrecognizable, and no one came forward to claim her. No one had filed a missing persons report and there were very few clues.

    Even for hardened New York City cops, the case was a sad and grisly one. Detectives named the girl 'Baby Hope', in the hope that someone would come forward and help them find out who she was and what happened to her.

    Two years after her discovery, Baby Hope was buried in St Hamond's ceremony. The police of the 34th Precinct pooled their money and paid for her gravestone. She was buried in a white communion dress.
    Read more:

  3. #3

    Default Re: Police Still Seeking Identity of Girl’s Body Found in ’91

    Baby Hope’ Cold Case Could Freeze New York Press Shield

    (CN) – In their zeal to solve a 22-year-old cold case, Manhattan prosecutors could wind up chilling the state’s expansive press-shield laws, a First Amendment attorney told New York’s highest court on Tuesday.
    “We are more protective of free-speech rights and free-press rights than anyone else,” attorney Katherine Bolger said this afternoon, referring to the Empire State, at arguments in Albany.
    An attorney with the firm Davis Wright Tremaine, Bolder represents the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Frances Robles, whom prosecutors subpoenaed in 2016 to testify at the expected trial of Conrado Juarez.
    Police arrested Juarez three years earlier for the 1991 murder of his 4-year-old niece, Anjelica Castillo.
    Until a DNA test of the remains confirmed her identity in 2013, Castillo had been known for 22 years as Baby Hope. Investigators determined that the child had been malnourished and sexually abused before someone asphyxiated her, bound her naked body with rope and the cord from Venetian blinds, and stuffed her inside a garbage bag. No one ever reported the child missing, and she had been dead a week before her badly decomposed remains were found alongside a Manhattan highway on July 23, 1991, in a cooler that also contained unopened soda cans.
    Once Castillo was identified in 2013, however, police arrested her uncle, Juarez, and obtained a confession from him after a 14-hour interrogation. Robles interviewed the suspect days later at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility, and prosecutors contend that her testimony and notes from that meeting are critical to their case.
    Though the judge presiding over Juarez’s case refused to quash the subpoena of Robles, an intermediate appeals court reversed on Oct. 20, 2016. Noting that Juarez’s videotaped confession had already been deemed admissible, along with other evidence, the court said prosecutors failed to make the case that the information Robles could provide was so “critical or necessary” that it overcame journalistic privilege.
    Assistant District Attorney Diane Princ contested this finding Tuesday before the New York Court of Appeals.
    “Quite frankly, your honor, this evidence is critical to our case,” Princ said. “It’s likely to turn a juror’s head.”
    Judge Jenny Rivera pushed back this afternoon against Princ’s argument that Robles should not even have been permitted to appeal the subpoena until after her refusal to honor it landed her in contempt.
    “It sounds like you’re saying their recourse is, they have to break the law,” said Rivera, who is one of seven judges that will resolve the state’s appeal.
    Judge Leslie Stein noted that the question was a hard one.
    “Obviously these are strong policy considerations on both sides, and of course, some of what we do in this court involves policy sometimes,” Stein said.
    Stein added that the policy questions usually go to another branch of government.
    “Why shouldn’t the Legislature be looking at these policy issues?” she asked.
    The Times attorney responded that is because the Court of Appeals has affirmed such decisions in three cases for more than 80 years.
    Reversing course would “be a tremendous retreat from our position as one of the most protective courts in the country,” Bolger added.
    Bolger also contested the prosecution’s claim that Robles will offer crucial testimony. “The defendant told the reporter that he was coerced,” the lawyer said. “That can’t be critical,” she added.
    Since Robles received her first subpoena, reporters have expressed alarm about what a precedent could hold. The Washington-based watchdog Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-the-court brief endorsed by 58 national media organizations warning about the repercussions of such an order.
    “Routine compelled disclosure of non-confidential but unpublished information would stymie reporting by threatening the independence of the news media and deterring sources from speaking to journalists, as well as burdening the news media’s time and resources and discouraging journalists from reporting on controversial matters and maintaining records of past reporting,” the group wrote in a 2016 brief. “The resulting loss of news coverage would be to the detriment of the public.”

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