DA: Suspect in NYC "Baby Hope" Death Changed His Story - NBC New York

Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

DA: Suspect in NYC "Baby Hope" Death Changed His Story



    Prosecutors are due to unveil an indictment in the death of a 4-year-old girl known for 22 years only as "Baby Hope" -- a case that stumped investigators for decades. Brynn Gingras reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013)

    The suspect in a decades-old child killing told investigators a series of stories about his involvement, first saying he unknowingly helping dispose of the little girl's body to eventually admitting he sexually abused and smothered her, a prosecutor said Thursday.

    But Conrado Juarez' lawyer contested the alleged admission to killing the 4-year-old girl long known only as "Baby Hope."

    "This alleged confession is completely suspect," attorney Michael Croce said as Juarez pleaded not guilty to murder.

    Juarez, a 52-year-old kitchen worker, was arrested only last month in a case that stumped investigators for decades.

    Mom of "Baby Hope" Reveals Why She Didn't Call Police

    [NY] Mom of "Baby Hope" Reveals Why She Didn't Call Police
    The mother of the girl known as "Baby Hope" after her body was mysteriously dumped in the woods in 1991 revealed for the first time Tuesday that she didn't report the girl missing because she was afraid no one would listen after the child's father took her. Ida Siegal has more.
    (Published Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013)

    Naked, folded and tied with rope, the girl's asphyxiated corpse was found in a cooler beside a Manhattan highway in 1991. There was semen on her body, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges told a judge.

    Until recently, detectives didn't even know the girl's name. They dubbed her "Baby Hope" and paid for her headstone — a marker that was finally engraved with her name, Anjelica Castillo, last week.

    More Coverage: Baby Hope's Tombstone Engraved with Slain Girl's Real Name

    "Baby Hope" Mom Speaks for First Time

    [NY] Mom of "Baby Hope" Speaks for First Time, Didn't Know Daughter Was Killed
    The mother of the slain girl known as "Baby Hope" until investigators learned her identity last week and arrested a cousin for her death spoke publicly for the first time Monday, telling reporters that she never knew her daughter had been killed. Brynn Gingras has the story.
    (Published Friday, Aug. 29, 2014)

    An appeal for tips on the anniversary of her discovery led investigators to her mother, who had left Anjelica and another daughter with their biological father; he, in turn, deposited them with his relatives. Juarez, a cousin, was staying in the same apartment with Anjelica and her sister, authorities said.

    "What is this about?" he asked a detective who came to see him Oct. 11, according to a prosecution document released Thursday.

    Over the ensuing 14 hours, Juarez first told detectives he just helped his sister dispose of the cooler, unaware what was inside, according to Mourges and a prosecution document summarizing his remarks.

    "Baby Hope" Cousin Arrested in 1991 Cold Case: NYPD

    [NY] "Baby Hope" Cousin Arrested in 1991 Cold Case: NYPD
    Police say they have solved the 22-year-old mystery of "Baby Hope," the child whose body was found dumped in a cooler in the woods in upper Manhattan in 1991, announcing the arrest Saturday of a cousin they say sexually assaulted and smothered the 4-year-old girl. Checkey Beckford reports.
    (Published Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013)

    Then Juarez recounted finding Anjelica dead on the floor, packing her body into the cooler, piling soda cans on top to try to conceal the corpse, and helping his sister drop it by the highway, the authorities said.

    Later, Juarez recounted sexually abusing the child while drunk but said that was unrelated to her death, they said.

    "Finally, he admitted that he had sex with the victim and killed her by smothering her with a pillow," Mourges said.

    The DA's office didn't release Juarez' eventual written and videotaped statements.

    Juarez' lawyer suggested the interrogation was "coercive," noting its length, among other questions he raised about the reliability of the statements.

    Croce declined to describe Juarez' own version of events. Juarez told newspapers the girl died accidentally, he helped his sister dispose of her body, and detectives pressured him into saying he killed her.

    Police and prosecutors have expressed confidence in the confession. Prosecutors are awaiting DNA test results, Mourges said.

    Get the latest from NBC 4 New York anywhere, anytime