On July 23, 1991, construction workers in New York City found the body of a 4-year-old girl. She was bound in a garbage bag, hidden under some soda cans in a blue and white cooler. The girl had been sexually abused. The cooler was found along the Henry Hudson Parkway.
The little girl became known as “Baby Hope” to the New York Police Department, who never stopped looking for answers in the case. Every year on the anniversary of the girl’s discovery, detectives from the Cold Case Apprehension Squad canvassed nearby neighborhoods, and passed out fliers asking people for information on the girls identity, who was her family? Who killed her? The girl was never reported missing.
On Saturday police announced the identity of the girl. 4-year-old Angelica Castillo was “Baby Hope.” They also announced the arrest of the man they said killed Anjelica 22 years ago. The man, Conrado Juarez, 52, is the girl’s cousin on her father’s side. He has been charged with murder..
According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, an anonymous tip called in after the latest canvass this past July, helped crack the case. It led police to Angelica’s sister, now an adult, which led them to identify the girl’s mother.
Police arrested Juarez after questioning him near the Manhattan restaurant where he worked as a dishwasher. Juarez admitted to the crime Saturday morning, Kelly said.
Juarez, who was 30 at the time of the crime, said he went to an apartment in Queen’s shared by seven of his relatives and saw Angelica in the hallway, Kelley said. Juarez told investigators he smothered the girl with a pillow while raping her.
When the girl went motionless, he summoned his sister from another room. It was the sister who told Juarez to get rid of the body and who provided the cooler.
The sister, Balvena Juarez Ramirez, is deceased, according to Kelly.
Two years after she was found, the girl was laid to rest in a donated plot, buried in a white dress bought by a detective’s wife, with a tombstone paid for by detectives. “Because we care is” the inscription at the bottom of the tombstone.