It was a case that rocked the New York Police Department on July 23, 1991, when Baby Hope’s abused and decomposing body was discovered on the side of a road.
After 22 years, the department finally caught a break, thanks to an anonymous tip called in during the latest canvas. That tip ultimately led to an arrest after a relative of the young girl apparently confessed to her murder.
Baby Hope, as the department’s Cold Case Apprehension Squad, has called her, also has a name — Anjelica Castillo. CNN reports that she was only four years old when she was smothered and sexually molested. Her body was found bound and inside a plastic bag, stuffed inside a blue and white cooler.
Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski commented on Saturday, “Today, NYPB investigators have given young Anjelica her due justice.” Conrado Juarez, Anjelica’s cousin, was arrested on Friday after police questioned him at his place of employment. They then led him away in handcuffs. He apparently confessed to the crime on Saturday morning.
The Associated Press notes that the case of Baby Hope became an obsession for some investigators and hundreds of people attended a funeral for the girl, whose body was put to rest in 1993. Her body was exhumed for DNA testing two times, in 2007 and 2011. During the 22-year case, detectives took to the streets on the anniversary of the day her body was found, hanging fliers and circulating sketches.
Along with a photo of the cooler, police also offered a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Despite the slim odds of finding out what happened, they never gave up. The tipster who came forward in July led detectives to Anjelica’s sister, who is now an adult. She confessed to them that her sister was killed. Anjelica’s mother, who wasn’t identified, didn’t have custody of the girl when she was killed and she was never reported missing.
Baby Hope’s alleged killer is being held on murder charges and is awaiting arraignment.