NEW YORK(CBSNewYork/AP) — An arrest has been made in the 1991 “Baby Hope” cold case killing.
Conrado Juarez, 52, of the Bronx, was arrested in connection with the case, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced on Saturday.
During an interrogation early Saturday, the 4-year-old girl’s cousin, Conrado Juarez, had admitted sexually assaulting and smothering her, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Juarez was arraigned on Saturday night.
Juarez said that he encountered the girl in the hallway of an Astoria, Queens home after her parents had been separated, according to authorities.
Balbena Juarez Ramirez, the now deceased sister of Juarez allegedly helped him stuff the body in a cooler before getting in a livery cab and disposing of the body near the Henry Hudson Parkway, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported.
“Juarez returned to the Bronx and his sister returned to Queens, never to speak of this heinous act again,” Kelly said.
Angelica’s naked body was discovered in upper Manhattan 22 years ago.
On Saturday Juarez was charged with second degree murder, 1010 WINS reported.
It wasn’t clear whether Juarez, 52, had a lawyer. Police said he lived in the Bronx, but that the family had been living in Queens at the time of the killing. They also said Juarez claimed that a relative helped him dispose of the child’s body.
On Saturday authorities also confirmed Baby Hope’s name: Anjelica Castillo.
District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. released a statement regarding the investigation and arrest on Saturday:
“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. For more than two decades investigators never stopped searching for the person who ended this young girl’s life. They made it their mission to identify this young child, to lay her to rest, and to bring her killer to justice. Now, we will do that. From my own office, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges was the responding ADA on the day Anjelica was found in 1991, and has worked the case ever since. Today, fittingly, she leads our Cold Case Unit, and was instrumental in charging this defendant with murder. Every victim deserves justice, and I thank the tireless men and women who made it their mission to see that this case was solved.”
The NYPD renewed efforts to gather information in the case in July.
Police handed out posters and flyers featuring a composite sketch of what the child – estimated to be between 3 and 5 years old when she died — might have looked like and offered a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
This summer’s efforts got results.
A tip came in to the Crime Stoppers phone line and that bit of information led detectives to the mother of the child.
“An anonymous call helped detectives develop information that led them to the now adult sister of Baby Hope. From there they identified a woman believed to be Baby Hope’s mother,” Commissioner Kelly said.
Law enforcement officials were able to match the child’s DNA last week.
Juarez’ neighbors at the River Park Towers in the Bronx told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin that they were astonished by the revelation.
“You can live next to someone you never suspect would do something like that,” Bernard Vasser said.
Detectives from the 34th Precinct were the ones that named the child “Baby Hope” and pitched in with their own money to buy the girl a headstone and cemetery plot at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx in 1993. They plan to change the name on the headstone to her real name.
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