NYC’s Baby Hope Finally Identified, 22 Years After Sex Abuse, Starvation, Murder

The case of Baby Hope, the name given an unidentified murdered child found in New York City in 1991, may finally be nearly solved after 22 years.

Baby Hope entered the collective history of New York City that summer, when her decomposed body was found stuffed in a cooler on the side of Henry Hudson Parkway.

By the time she was discovered, evidence had degraded, presenting a challenge to investigators in giving Baby Hope a name. It was July 23, and sweltering conditions inside the makeshift tomb had made identification of the dead little girl difficult.

But even before modern forensic technology, Baby Hope’s body told a terrible tale of a short life. The child had been beaten, bound, starved, and sexually abused before she was killed and discarded on the side of the road in the cooler.

Before DNA was widely used in criminal investigations, police resorted to other means — such as tracking the cooler’s maker and attempting to find where the item was purchased. However, the case went cold, and many NYPD detectives feared Hope’s killer would never be called to account for torturing and killing the child.

In the late 00s, DNA match attempts were made following a 2007 exhumation. And now, police believe Baby Hope’s mother and sister have been found.

The New York Daily News reports Baby Hope’s tentative identification hinges on the match and the girl’s mother finally breaking her silence:

“The dead girl’s mom never saw Hope again once the girl and her younger sister were spirited off by their dad in 1991, sources said. The father bolted with both daughters after the couple’s ugly split… The mom, who told cops that she was terrified of the father, kept her terrible fears about the lost girl secret for years — even after the younger daughter was returned unharmed years later, sources said.”

Baby Hope has haunted many a cop since the horrifying discovery 22 years ago — and today, retired Detective Jerry Giorgio told the paper:

“Just getting her identified means a great deal… This is absolutely one of the best days I’ve had in my career.”

Among the small breaks that led to the identification of Baby Hope were a renewed focus on the case, as well as the sister of Hope discussing her missing older sibling in a laundromat, where a witness overheard the comments. Police are seeking her father, who may still be in the New York City area.