More Than Two Decades Later, 'Baby Hope' Murder Case Heads To Court

Prosecutors are due to unveil an indictment in a New York City child-killing that stumped investigators for decades: The death of a 4-year-old girl long known only as "Baby Hope."

Suspect Conrado Juarez was due in a Manhattan court Thursday. The cold case heated up just this summer. The murder went unsolved for 22 years before a tipster led police to Castillo's mother in July, and eventually to Juarez.

The indictment hadn't been filed in court as of Wednesday. Defense lawyer Michael Croce said he hadn't yet seen it.

Juarez was initially arraigned on a murder charge after his Oct. 12 arrest.

The girl's body was found in a cooler by a highway in 1991. Detectives nicknamed her "Baby Hope." A tip recently led them to her name, Anjelica Castillo.

Juarez was her cousin.

Police say he confessed to sexually abusing and suffocating Anjelica. He told newspapers she died accidentally.

Juarez told the New York Times, in a jailhouse interview, he did not kill her and his confession was coerced.

Juarez, the slain girl’s cousin, was charged with second-degree murder after police said he admitted to sexually assaulting Castillo and smothering her with a pillow before dumping her body in a cooler on the side of a Manhattan highway.

But Juarez said he was interrogated for hours and then was forced to sign papers, written in English, that he did not understand.

“They insisted and insisted,” Mr. Juárez told The Times of the detectives who interrogated him. “They would say, ‘You killed her!’ So, after a while and after so much pressure, I accepted it and said what they wanted.”

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.