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A look back at a famous NYC cold case solved: ‘Baby Hope’ mom identified after 22 years

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NEW YORK (PIX11) –  In a remarkable development, the NYPD has identified the remains of a small girl who was found stuffed in a cooler near the West Side Highway more than 22 years ago.  Detectives moved by her tragic end named her “Baby Hope,” but now the NYPD knows her true identity.

“We have been able to identify the mother of Baby Hope,” Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, announced during a media availability. “A DNA match has been made.”

It was a tip from a person living in Washington Heights–in Upper Manhattan–that led detectives to the woman they say is Hope’s mother.  They are not releasing her name yet.  It’s believed she’s a Mexican immigrant.

Sources say the tipster heard information about the case in a laundromat.  She kept it to herself for a number of years, but when detectives took to the streets on the 22nd anniversary of Baby Hope’s discovery, the tipster decided to reveal what she knew.

Detectives were able to track down the person they believed to be Baby Hope’s mother.  They had already exhumed the child’s body several years ago, taking tissue samples, because of advancement in DNA technology.  When the woman named as Hope’s mother was found, they took samples from her, and there was a DNA match.

One of the case detectives from the beginning, Jerry Giorgio, had received information early on that a Mexican couple was seen near an embankment of the Henry Hudson Parkway, carrying a blue and white cooler in July 1991.  That’s when the decomposed body of the little girl was discovered in the woods off the highway.  An autopsy showed evidence of sexual abuse and starvation.

Detectives were so horrified–and moved–by the child’s plight, that they raised money to pay for her funeral.  “Hope” became their baby, and now she will have a real name.