Baby Hope's murder has gone unsolved for 22 years. Recent interviews led police to question cousin Conrado Juarez. Although he initially denied involvement, he eventually confessed to sexually abusing and killing the 4-year-old girl.
Baby Hope's name was Anjelica Castillo. In 1991, her body was discovered inside an Igloo cooler on the side of the road. She was dressed in a white christening dress and her hands were bound as though she were praying.
Medical examiners determined the child was malnourished at the time of her death. They believed she died of suffocation.
Anjelica's identity was unknown for 22 years. Although she lived with seven people, including her parents, her disappearance was never reported. Detectives launched a massive search for her family or any information about her identity. DNA testing was performed in 2007 and 20011. However, her identity remained unknown.
As reported by The New York Times, a renewed investigation led detectives to Conrado Juarez. The suspect denied known the child. However, he eventually "admitted that he forced sexual contact with the child." During the attack, he reportedly covered her face with a pillow.
When he removed the pillow from her face, she was dead. Authorities said Jaurez's sister, Balvina Jaurez-Ramirez, helped him pack Anjelica's body inside the cooler and transport it to a remote site.
Law enforcement officials said Jaurez has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous children in his family. However, he was never prosecuted for the crimes.
Baby Hope was killed 22 years ago. However, New York has no statute of limitations on sexual abuse of children.
Jaurez's attorney, Michael J. Croce, said his client was coerced into confessing the crime. Croce said his client was subjected to nearly 14 hours of interrogation. He also said the confession was invalid as Jaurez does not speak English, and he was not provided with legal representation. He also questioned the existence of forensic evidence linking his client to the case.
Anjelica's mother was confirmed using a DNA sample. As reported by New York Post, the mother was interviewed by detectives. However, she blamed her daughter's death and disappearance on Anjelica's father. The father reportedly left the 4-year-old in the care of family members, including Jaurez.
Authorities believe Baby Hope's murder and disappearance were never reported, as her family was in the United States illegally. Police are still investigating the family's involvement. Jaurez is being held without bond.