How Anjelica Castillo’s murder was finally solved

There are, undoubtedly, many murderers out there who have managed to get away with their crimes. Yet they should be aware that their sins may well find them out, even if it takes a couple of decades to do so. Sometimes, scientific progress enables scientists to piece together the evidence needed to convict them. At other times, it is pure determination on the part of the detectives involved to get their man. In the ‘Baby Hope’ case, it took 22 years to bring a conviction, but that has finally happened and the child’s identity has been revealed. 

In 1991, the badly abused and decomposed body of a small girl, aged around four years old, was found by the side of a road in New York. Yet nobody came forward to report a missing child and, despite canvassing neighbourhoods in the area repeatedly over the years, no information was forthcoming. A CNN article explains how the detectives on the case felt so strongly about her case that they arranged for her burial, two years after she was found. A detective’s wife bought a white dress to bury her in and the detectives paid for a headstone on which an inscription was carved: ‘Because we care.’ 

Despite the lack of evidence, those involved in the case never forgot the child, whom they referred to as ‘Baby Hope.’ The original prosecutor, Melissa Mourges, now Chief of the Cold Case Unit, was therefore delighted to announce in October 2013 that the perpetrator had finally been found, following an anonymous tip. That had led to a DNA test, allowing detectives to trace a number of people, including the sister of ‘Baby Hope.’ Finally, they were able to discover her real name, Anjelica Castillo, and piece together her final, tragic moments.

The murderer was a cousin of Anjelica on her father’s side, called Conrado Juarez. He was 30 years old at the time of the murder. Castillo’s parents were apparently going through a split at the time of her murder and she was staying in the same house as Juarez’s sister and a number of other relatives. Juarez had noticed Anjelica when visiting the house and raped her while smothering her with a pillow. On realising that she was dead, he asked his sister, now deceased, for help. She suggested he hide the body in a drinks’ cooler and dump it away from the house.

Sadly, this is exactly what Juarez did and, although the family realised that she was missing, no one admitted it. Anjelica’s mother was apparently too afraid of the child’s father to do anything and so the case was completely covered up. However, police are apparently interested in speaking to the father, although they currently have no evidence to charge him with anything. Fortunately, Conrado Juarez, who has admitted to the murder, has been charged. 

Sheer hard work and determination has had a major part to play in finally laying Anjelica to rest, but it was ably assisted by scientific progress. Anjelica’s body was exhumed in 2006 and a DNA profile was constructed in 2011. This profile, and the anonymous tip, helped detectives trace Anjelica’s family in October 2013.