Over 20 years ago, police discovered the body of a young child in a dirty cooler off Hudson Parkway in Washington Heights. Though her remains were already decomposing, test showed she had been starved, beaten, and sexually assaulted. No one ever reported her missing, her identity was never discovered, and her funeral was paid for by the cops investigating the case. Late Monday, it was reported that DNA evidence had led police to the girl’s mother, and that an arrest has been made after the trail had been cold for over two decades.
This summer, police returned to where the body was found and set up a dragnet with a tip line and a $12,000 reward. A tip came in July from a woman claiming to have spoken to the Baby Hope’s now-adult sister.
The tip led investigators to the possible mother of Baby Hope, whose identity was confirmed through a DNA test. The woman’s identity has not yet been released, the police citing an ongoing murder investigation for the embargo.
When Baby Hope was discovered on July 23, 1991, she was completely nude save for a yellow hairband. The Times report from 22 years ago described Baby Hope’s makeshift grave:
The search began on July 23, a Tuesday, when Mr. Perdue, working for the Jana Construction Company of Yonkers on the stretch of roadway north of Dyckman Street, sighted the Igloo cooler about 50 feet down the hill along a path through the underbrush. The workers had been bothered for days by a foul smell from the woods, and he ordered two men to investigate.
The cooler was covered with torn-off tree branches. The men tipped it over, spilling out some liquid, the soda cans and a black plastic garbage bag. A strong stench drove them away, but they returned with a shovel and cut open the bag. They saw a leg and an arm, and fled to report the find.
All the police could see at first was that the body was a child’s, tied up, doubled-over, with a cord running from the neck to under the knees. The features were decomposed.
The initial autopsy showed that Baby Hope was smothered.
The map below is of the location where Baby Hope was found.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 8, 2013