Re: Arrest in "Baby Hope" Case: NYPD
Baby Hope's mother Margarita Castillo was shocked and relieved to learn the fate of her daughter
As Baby Hope’s real name was finally placed on her tombstone Sunday, one of her sisters revealed their mother was shocked that a sex-fiend cousin had been collared in the cold-case killing.
A day after cops announced the case was solved, an unknown person printed Baby Hope’s name — Anjelica Castillo — on a piece of paper and taped it to her granite marker at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.
“It’s important to put her real name, but we are going to put it under Baby Hope so people will remember,” said retired NYPD Detective Jerry Giorgio, who worked on the case for years and helped pay for the girl’s tombstone. “We will also put in her date of birth.”
Until cops knocked on the door of her Elmhurst, Queens, apartment last week, Margarita Castillo had said her little girl had been taken from her at age 4 by the abusive man who fathered her. She told cops she never knew her daughter had been murdered.
“Surprised, I guess. She’s relieved,” one of Castillo’s five daughters, Jessy Rojell, 22, said of her mother’s reaction when she learned of the arrest — and heard the heinous details of a case that had baffled detectives since 1991.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced over the weekend that the mystery of the Baby Hope case was over and her killer, the victim’s own cousin, Conrado Juarez, 52, had confessed. He has been charged with second-degree murder.
He was in protective custody at Rikers Island because “no one likes a baby killer,” a source said.
For the first time, Kelly put a name to the tragic tot found July 23, 1991, her body folded in half, stuffed in an Igloo cooler and dumped alongside the Henry Hudson Parkway in Washington Heights.
In his sick confession, Juarez, a father of four, said he was visiting relatives at an Astoria, Queens, apartment building in 1991 when he came upon Anjelica in the hallway alone, police officials said.
Juarez, who worked as a dishwasher at a Greenwich Village Italian restaurant, told detectives he sexually assaulted the girl and accidentally smothered her to death in a closet trying to keep her quiet.
He said he told his sister, Balvina Juarez-Ramirez, who responded, “You got to get rid of her,” a police source said.
Not long before the murder, Anjelica’s father had taken her and one of her sisters from their mother, then left them with his niece, Juarez-Ramirez, and moved to Mexico. Juarez-Ramirez, who helped her brother dispose of the body, has since died.
Police, acting on a new tip, arrested Juarez Friday night.
His co-workers at Trattoria Pesce Pasta on Bleecker St. were stunned. “If I had known, I would have called the police myself,” one worker said.
“Here I am working beside him. ... I have two kids myself,” the co-worker said. “When I found out, I was disgusted.”
Detectives caught a break over the summer when a tipster told them of a years-ago conversation in a Washington Heights laundermat in which one of Anjelica’s sisters, who has not been identified by police, told her of a murdered sibling.
The sister who was left with Juarez-Ramirez continued to live at the Astoria apartment for four years after the murder and went back to her mother when Juarez-Ramirez died, a police source said.
“Where’s the other girl?” Margarita Castillo, who never reported her girls missing, told a relative at the time of the reunification, the source said.
Police said no other arrests are expected, but they’ll continue interviewing Juarez’s relatives to find out if he abused others. Detectives are also working with authorities to find Anjelica’s father in Mexico.
Neighbors believe Castillo’s account that she knew nothing about her daughter’s death. “She’s a sweetheart. I’ve known her since I was a kid,” neighbor Jorge Gonzalez, 24, said of Castillo, a baby-sitter, and her daughters.
Gonzalez said Castillo has five daughters, including one named Maribel, who was younger than Anjelica.
One neighbor, a 25-year-old teacher, said Castillo’s oldest daughter, Lorena, 26, had spoken of a sister who died.
“Lorena would always mention she had a sister who died,” the neighbor said. “We thought she was making stories up. We were just kids, we didn’t think anything of it. We thought she was crazy.”
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Mom Speaks For The First Time
Mom of "Baby Hope" speaks for first time, didn't know daughter was killed
Conrado Juarez, 52, was arrested and charged with felony murder.
By Katherine Creag and Shimon Prokupecz, NBCNews.com
The mother of the slain girl known as, "Baby Hope," until investigators learned her identity last week, spoke publicly for the first time Monday, telling reporters that she never knew her daughter had been killed.
Margarita Castillo, speaking in Spanish through the door of her Queens apartment, identified herself as the mother of the girl, whose real name is Anjelica Castillo.
She said she was devastated to learn that her daughter had been abused and killed, and said she knew nothing about what happened to her so many years ago.
On Saturday, police said they had solved the mystery of the decades-old cold case, arresting a cousin for allegedly smothering the 4-year-old to death after raping her. Police said he and his sister, who's now dead, together devised a plan to dispose of her body in a cooler in the woods in upper Manhattan in 1991.
Anjelica was never reported missing, and investigators had pursued leads for 22 years after she was found, dubbing her, "Baby Hope," because her name and age were not known.
Her mother would not say Monday why she didn't report the girl missing; police have said Anjelica was living with her father at the time that she was attacked by her cousin at the man's sister's home.
Investigators now believe Anjelica was also tortured at that home, at times tied to a table and denied water, according to law enforcement sources.
The NYPD's special victims squad has also joined the investigation, NBC 4 New York learned Monday. Detectives are looking into whether there are more victims of sexual abuse from the home.
The 52-year-old cousin, Conrado Juarez, was arrested and charged with felony murder.
The girl's body was found by construction workers on July 23, 1991 along the Henry Hudson Parkway near Dyckman Street.
Investigators launched a renewed push this summer for leads in the case, and it was amid that publicity for, "Baby Hope," that a tipster contacted police, saying she thought she might know the child's sister, now an adult.
That tip led detectives to relatives of the girl, and eventually the cousin.
The stupid, "incubator," should have reported her missing!
*Scumbag Denies Murdering Baby*
'Baby Hope' slaying suspect denies he killed her
Conrado Juarez, cousin of 4 year old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed, "Baby Hope," says his confession was coerced and the toddler died in a fall down the stairs.
After confessing to police he sexually assaulted and then smothered 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed, "Baby Hope," Conrado Juarez now says the confession was coerced.
NEW YORK — The man charged with sexually assaulting and smothering 4 year old "Baby Hope" in 1991 denied in a jailhouse interview that he killed the girl but admitted he helped dispose of the body.
Conrado Juarez told The New York Times that Anjelica Castillo died in a fall down the stairs.
The 52 year old kitchen worker was arrested October 11 on a charge of second-degree murder. Police said he confessed to assaulting the child and smothering her with a pillow to stifle her screams.
But Juarez told the newspaper his confession was coerced.
"That's the mess I find myself in," he said in the Wednesday interview at the Rikers Island jail complex.
He said he was resigned to spending the rest of his life in prison.
Juarez' lawyer, Michael Croce, declined to comment Friday on his client's remarks to the Times. Croce has questioned the legitimacy of the statements police said Juarez made after about 12 hours of interrogation.
"I'm anxious to see what the evidence is besides an alleged confession," Croce reiterated Friday.
Juarez is due back in court October 22 to find out whether he's been indicted. Croce said he has advised Juarez not to testify before the grand jury.
Police had been searching for Anjelica's killer ever since her body was found 22 years ago in a cooler dumped by the roadside in upper Manhattan. No one had reported her missing, and her identity was a mystery until police received a tip recently that helped them identify the girl's mother.
At the time of her death, Anjelica and a sister were living in Queens with relatives including Juarez' sister, Balvina Juarez-Ramirez. Juarez and his sister were cousins of the girls, who had been left there by their father.
Juarez said Anjelica was sometimes tied to a chair because she was headstrong.
In the interview published in Friday's paper, he said his sister called him one day on his cellphone to say that Anjelica had died in a fall down the stairs. The Times reported that for the account to be accurate, Juarez would have had to be one of fewer than 3 percent of the people in the United States who had a mobile telephone in 1991.
AP Photo: John Minchillo
"The baby fell down the steps?", my ass!
Re: Arrest in "Baby Hope" Case: NYPD
Surely not everybody was Kung Fu fighting.