(CNN) — New York police arrested a Bronx man in connection with the 22-year-old killing of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, previously known as “Baby Hope,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Saturday.
The man, Conrado Juarez, 52, is the cousin of the girl, police said. He was arrested at a restaurant in Manhattan where he worked as a dishwasher, Kelly said.
Juarez admitted to the crime Saturday morning, Kelly said, adding charges are still being developed.
The arrest came as the result of a tipster who came forward, police said.
“Today, NYPD investigators have given young Angelica her due justice,” said Chief Phil Pulaski.
The NYPD Cold Case Apprehension Squad never stopped looking for leads in the case, continuing to hand out flyers and canvas nearby neighborhoods every year on the anniversary of the July 23, 1991, discovery of the body.
The tip came after their latest canvas in July.
Changes in forensic science also helped push forward the investigation, Kelly said. The girl’s body was exhumed in 2006, and a DNA profile was built in 2011. Earlier this month a DNA match between the girl and her mother was made.
From there, investigators constructed a family tree, and the trail led them to Juarez, Kelly said.
“It shows the phenomenal persistence” of the detectives who originally worked on the case and those now working with the cold case squad, Kelly said. “They were unrelenting.”
Juarez, who was 30 at the time of the crime, said he went to an apartment in Queens shared by seven of his relatives and saw Anjelica in the hallway, Kelly said. Juarez told police he sexually assaulted her and then smothered her.
When the girl went motionless, Juarez told police, 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, Kelly said.
The two hailed a cab to Manhattan, dropped the cooler off in a wooded area, and then went their separate ways, Kelly said.
The sister, Balvena Juarez Ramirez, is deceased, Kelly said.