New York

Murdered child’s body found in cooler

July 23, 1991
Manhattan, New York
The badly decomposing body of a young unidentified girl, nicknamed Baby Hope, is found in a discarded cooler

The young girl’s body was discovered along the Harry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan in a cooler along with water (which was presumably ice at one point) and unopened soda cans. She was nude, bound with rope and a cord from Venetian blinds, and malnourished, weighing only 28 lbs/12.5 kg. She was estimated to be between 3 and 5 years old, Hispanic, the victim of sexual assault, and had died around July 18. Her body was too badly decomposed to identify her as her face was unrecognizable. She was given the nickname Baby Hope and buried following a public funeral.

Baby Hope’s identity went unsolved for 22 years until a tip came to police. The tip was from a source who had overheard a mother mentioning her missing daughter. Baby Hope was exhumed to compare her DNA with the woman’s, which brought a positive match. Baby Hope was then officially recognized as Anjelica Castillo.

When questioned about her daughter’s disappearance and her failure to notify police, Margarita Castillo claimed her husband had left her and taken their three children to Mexico. Unbeknownst to her, 4-year-old Anjelica was instead placed in the care of her adult cousin, Balvina Juarez-Martinez. Balina’s brother Conrado Juarez began abusing Anjelica, denying her food and water, and keeping her bound to a table in his sister’s apartment. The day of Anjelica’s death, Conrado raped and sodomized his young cousin, suffocating her as she cried out during the attack. Conrado immediately informed Balina of their cousin’s murder, and Balina insisted they discard Anjelica’s body.

Conrado has been charged with felony murder, though his defense team is trying to dismiss his taped confession, claiming it was coerced during interrogation. His trial is currently still in progress. Balina died before Anjelica’s identity was revealed.

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