NEW YORK -- Accused "Baby Hope" killer Conrado Juarez died this weekend in Rockland County Jail, a law enforcement source told PIX11 News Monday.
The 58-year-old was being held in protective custody after he confessed in 2013 that he molested and later suffocated his little cousin, Anjelica Castillo.
For 22 years, Anjelica was known as Baby Hope. Her body was found in 1991, stuffed in a cooler at a Manhattan park near the West Side Highway. Detectives were so horrified – and moved – by the child’s plight, that they raised money to pay for her funeral.
Juarez was arrested in 2013 thanks to a tip called into Crimestoppers.
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 before that, 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, the late 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.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Joseph Resnick, who was the Commanding Officer of the 34th Detective Squad when the girl’s body was found—told PIX11 Juarez was finally supposed to go to trial in early 2019.
But the trial never took place after a drawn out court fight involving a reporter who had interviewed Juarez, who was being compelled to testify.
“I had looked forward to taking him to trial and gaining justice through the courts,” Resnick told PIX11 Monday night.
“The confession was obtained legally,” Commissioner Resnick said. “He did it.”
Resnick also noted that Juarez’s sister had helped dispose of Anjelica’s body, but she, too, died before she could be brought to trial.
Resnick said the District Attorney’s Office notified the Cold Case Squad about the weekend death.
Resnick and the detectives from the 34th Squad, including the late Jerry Giorgio, had pooled their money together to pay for a casket and burial for Baby Hope a couple of years after her death. Giorgio’s wife even bought a Communion dress for the little girl to wear at burial.
On the Oct. 1 episode of The Mary Murphy Files, the late Jerry Giorgio's former boss, Joseph Resnick joined us to remember Giorgio who recently passed away. His career inspired a character on "Law & Order" and is forever linked to the Baby Hope case.