NEW YORK -- New York City police say they've made an arrest in the death of a child nicknamed 'Baby Hope' 22 years after her body was discovered inside a picnic cooler.
Police announced that the girl's 52-year-old cousin –Conrado Juarez– admitted to sexually assaulting and killing Angelica Castillo, whose name remained a mystery all this time until police could identify her. And today, they revealed her name.
"Yesterday afternoon, NYPD detectives from the Bronx Violent Felony Squad apprehended Conrado Juarez, age 52 of the Bronx, also known as Anadino Juarez, in connection with the murder of four-year-old Anjelica Castillo, a child victim known for the last 22 years as Baby Hope,” New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a news conference.
Anjelica's body was found in 1991 besides a parkway in Manhattan, so decomposed that several sketches were made to suggest what she might have looked like. She had never been reported as missing, and there was no information about her or her family.
But police say following a campaign in July that renewed public awareness, they identified Anjelica's mother through an anonymous tipster coming forward, as well as through a new DNA test. From there, detectives were able to construct a family tree that led them to Juarez.
"I think I can sum up my feelings in three words: I'm very proud,” NYPD Assistant Chief Joe Reznick said. “I'm proud of this department; I'm proud of the detectives; I'm very happy or elated; and certainly I'm relieved for the fact that when we visit this plot now out in Saint Raymond's, we can now attach a name to this little girl."
Commissioner Kelly said that Juarez – who was 30 years old back in 1991 – told police he had gone to a Queens apartment that several of his relatives shared, and saw Anjelica in the hallway. Juarez admitted to smothering her after he had sexually assaulted her.
According to Kelly, Juarez also told police that when Anjelica went motionless, his sister – Balvena Juarez Ramirez – told him to get rid of the body. Juarez said it was his sister who provided the cooler. Kelly said that they then took a cab to Manhattan and left the cooler in a wooded area.
Kelly noted that Balvena Juarez Ramirez is deceased. He added that charges are still being developed and it's not yet known when Juarez will be arraigned.