It may have taken 22 years but the NYPD doesn’t let an horrific murder like this go. On October 12, Conrado Juarez, 52, the cousin of Baby Hope, was arrested and arraigned at a Manhattan on charges of the murder of his 4-year-old cousin, Anjelica Castillo, or as she came to be known: Baby Hope.
For years the story of Baby Hope tormented detectives, a 4-year-old girl found stuffed in a cooler on a highway close to the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. Nobody came forward, nobody reported her missing, nobody cared.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cops Were Tipped Off to Juarez This Summer
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) October 13, 2013
The New York Post reports that a conversation at a laundromat in Queens, led to a tip as to the identity of who Baby Hope’s mother was. When cops finally caught up with her, she initially was reluctant to speak with them but after using a ruse to get her to lick an envelope, the cops matched her DNA with Baby Hope’s.
When cops caught up with her again, she admitted to being Baby Hope’s mother and tried to put the blame on the child’s father. Baby Hope was legally in her dad’s custody at the time of her murder. Baby Hope’s minder was her aunt, her father’s sister, Balvina Juarez.
2. Further Probing Led them to Conrado Juarez
After interviewing the entire family of Baby Hope, investigators were eventually led to the child’s cousin Conrado Juarez. Juarez is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who works as a dishwasher at Pesce Pasta, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.
Detectives learned that the reason none of Baby Hope’s family never came forward was due to their illegal status in the country.
3. Juarez’s Sister Helped Him Stash the Body
On that fateful night in the summer of 1991 when Baby Hope was last seen, Juarez told NYPD that he came home very drunk and encountered his young cousin. After violently raping her, he smothered her with a pillow. The Daily News reports that Juarez was only staying at Hope’s home temporarily.
He says he told his sister, Balvina Juarez, who was the child’s minder about the murder. She advised him to take the body as far away from Hope’s Astoria, Queens apartment. The pair got in a livery cab with Baby Hope’s body covered by soda cans in a cooler and drove to Washington Heights where the cooler was left to be found a week later.
The New York Times reports that Balvina Juarez died in 1995.
4. Juarez is Being Held in Solitary Confinement
He confessed to the crime on October 12, Juarez was charged with second-degree murder. He was taken to Riker’s Island prison complex where he’s being held in isolation, The New York Post reports that as a Juarez was being marched past other inmates, they begged guards to let Juarez into their cells. The Daily News’ source says Juarez is being held in solitary because, “nobody likes a baby killer.”
5. Juarez’s Lawyer is Not Buying His Client’s Confession
The New York Times’ reports that Juarez’s lawyer, Michael J. Croce, disputes that his client’s confession, calling it “miraculous” that came after an interrogation that lasted “12 to 14 hours.” He also added that Juarez doesn’t speak much English.