‘Baby Hope’ — and Her Mother — Now Have a Name

NEW YORK (AP) -

In a dramatic break in a cold case that frustrated police for more than two decades, investigators used DNA to identify the mother of a dead child known only as Baby Hope, and now want to question her father.

The New York Police Department received a tip from someone after a publicity push over the summer. The tip led to the woman, whose name was being withheld amid a homicide investigation.

“A DNA match was made with the mother, and the mother is cooperating,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said on Tuesday.

The woman, who lives in the city, told police that she believed her child hadn’t died. She said the girl, who was about 4 at the time, disappeared while she and a younger sister were in the care of her father. It was unclear whether the disappearance was ever reported.

The case dates to July 23, 1991, when a road worker discovered the girl’s remains. It was estimated she had been dead six to eight days at the time she was found.

In an interview in July, retired Detective Jerry Giorgio said he had pursued hundreds of leads but none panned out. He had the case from 1991 until he retired from the police force. Later, as an investigator for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, he kept up with it. His name and contact information are still on a website dedicated to the girl.

“It was so frustrating,” he said recently. “We initially thought we’ll get her identified and go from there and probably solve the case. It didn’t happen.”

As the frustration mounted, so did detectives’ caring about the victim. Eventually she was called Baby Hope, because they hoped and prayed they’d solve the case, Giorgio said.

Giorgio was instrumental in organizing the girl’s 1993 funeral, which was attended by hundreds of people.

An attempt was made in 2007 to get a sample of Baby Hope’s DNA, but none could be collected. A second attempt was made in 2011 using better technology on bone material and produced a usable DNA sample.