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Law Enforcement Today | July 29, 2016

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Update Baby Hope Case Solved

On a sweltering New York City day in July, 1991, a highway worker made a horrible discovery.  He had noticed a putrid odor just off the Henry Hudson Parkway in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan and traced it to a dirty cooler.  Among empty beer cans and debris, Baby Hope’s tortured body was found.  The child had been found naked, sexually abused, starved, and asphyxiated.

NYPD cops are well known to be among this nation’s toughest, but this forsaken, unidentified  child, whom they named “Baby Hope,” touched their hearts. As they worked the case, they frequently referred to her as “our baby” when they discussed the child’s murder amongst themselves.

After she remained in the morgue for more than two months, unclaimed, unidentified, and unloved, detectives from the 34 Precinct arranged a funeral for her. They purchased a tombstone etched with the name they gave her.

The grave, with the seal of NYPD on the tombstone and the words “34 Squad” over Baby Hope’s name, is poignant.  Officers working her case, strangers, gave her the love in death denied by her family during her life.  Over the years, officers would return to the grave site to honor her memory.

This summer, etectives from NYPD’s Cold Case Squad renewed efforts to solve her murder 22 years after her death.  A $12,000 reward fund was established.  Police knocked on doors, distributed flyers, and issued press releases hoping for a break in the case.

In 1991, the Washington Heights/Inwood area of Manhattan was composed of some mean, dangerous streets heavily affected by crack cocaine addiction.  Honorable residents were afraid to talk for fear of retribution.  At that time, NYPD had not been able to develop any leads which could help them solve this case. DNA testing was still in its infancy.

A generation later, the neighborhood has gentrified and attitudes have changed.  Folks are less fearful and police were able to unearth some helpful information.  Apparently, residents have never forgotten this child’s death.  Working off a tip of a reported conversation overheard in a laundromat, police announced this week that they were able to obtain DNA from a woman which confirmed that she was Baby Hope’s mother.

Baby Hope’s mother told detectives that her husband ran off with both of her daughters in 1990.  NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advises that the mother is cooperating fully with police.

Unnamed police sources confirm that Baby Hope’s real name is Angelica.  This seems fitting, since she plays with the angels now…safe, secure, and cherished with an everlasting love.


NYPD announced that Angelica Costillo’s cousin, in his 30’s at the time of her murder, has been arrested in connection with her death. Conrado Juarez  confessed to sodomizing and murdering her.  He and his sister, now deceased, then disposed of her body in the cooler.

Hat’s off to the NYPD who never ever gave up on finding the murderer of Angelica Ramirez, Baby Hope, who finally received justice.

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