Anjelica "Baby Hope" Castillo
April 24, 1987 - July 23, 1991
Find A Grave Memorial

On July 23, 1991, construction workers found what looked to be a normal cooler, the kind people use to carry food, ice and cold drinks for camping or picnicking. When they opened the cooler, they found the decomposing body of a child. The child would go unrecognized for 22 years, though her headstone bore the name "Baby Hope".

Baby Hope was malnourished and after being examined and tested, it was shown that she had suffered sexual abuse and her cause of death was asphyxia. No claims of missing children had been filed and her body was so badly decomposed that it was hard to make out her facial features. Baby Hope was naked except for a hair tie with yellow baubles attached to it.

Police made every effort to find out who this little Angel was and their attempts failed. Baby Hope was buried two years later with
the Police of the 34th Precinct coming together to raise the money to give her a proper burial.

Baby Hope was wearing a white communion dress when she was buried and her gravestone bore the name she had been given by those who seemed to have cared about her more than anyone who actually knew her. Complete strangers gave her a headstone with the inscription: "Because We Care"

In 2007, Baby Hope's body was exhumed in hopes that a DNA sample could be taken and possibly help to identify who she was. Unfortunately, this little Angels body was not giving up anything at that time. In 2011, with improved means of testing for DNA, a second attempt was successful and an immediate check was made of all convicted felons and missing persons databases, once again, they came up empty handed.

Police were not giving up and in October of 2013, a sketch was made of the face of this little Angel and posters were hung up.

Thankfully a tip came in from someone who said they thought she might be the sister of someone who was a full grown women by this time. The tip lead Police to family of the girl and the family was able to let them know who her mother was as well as let them know that her name was Anjelica Castillo.

Anjelica's biological mother was confirmed through DNA and she told Police that she had lived in fear of the biological father of Anjelica, saying that was why she had never filed a missing persons report for her daughter, she had always believed that he had something to do with her disappearance. When they split up, the father took Anjelica and another of the three daughters and the mother was left with only one child, another girl. As it turned out, she was wrong, Conrado was a cousin and he confessed to Police what he had done.

Police were finally going to learn what had happened to this precious little girl. Angelica had been staying with friends because her parents were fighting and had split up. Anjelica had been staying with family on her father's side, when the brother of the Balvina Juarez-Ramirez, who lived in the home, was visiting. Conrado Juarez sexually assaulted Anjelica and then suffocated her, she was only four years old. Conrado said that when Anjelica had gone completely still, he went and got his sister who told him  to get rid of her body and brought him a cooler to put the child in. Taking a cab to Manhattan from Queens, the two monsters dumped the cooler and went home. Neither Conrado or Balvina ever spoke about what happened, again. At the time this information was given to Police, Conrado's sister had already died. A report said that Balvina had been suspected of abusing other children at times with her brother and at other times, without him being present.

Conrado Juarez, who was by then 52 year old, was arrested and charged with murder. At his arraignment, even though he had already confessed to the crime and told Police what had happened, he plead not guilty to second degree murder and there was no bail set. Defense Attorney Michael Croce said that the alleged confession was completely suspect adding that Conrado had been questioned for 13 hours straight and that a Police translator had been the one to help in the questioning:

"That's always problematic for me"

Michael Croce said that it was difficult to account for accuracy in cases where an interpreter had to be used. Conrado changed his story saying that Anjelica had fallen down the stairs in his sisters home and died and that she had asked him to help her get rid of the body. It would eventually be brought up that the questions had not been tape recorded, but some how, the confession was.

Margarita Castillo and her daughter spoke to reporters, in Spanish, through a closed door:

"You can't even describe a punishment You won't understand the pain.
We are just waiting for justice. We are not going to have peace"

"When my mom saw the drawing, she said Anjelica would've looked like
me if she were alive. She said I look like her"
Laurencita Ramirez - Sister To Anjelica

Laurencita said that at the age of 11, she had learned she had a sister who had been killed, but she had not learned about the Baby Hope cause until just recently. Investigators had never given up on finding out who the little Angel was:

"They made it their mission to identify this young child, to lay her to rest and bring her killer to justice"
District Attorney - Cyrus Vance Jr.

"Over the years the optimism was always there, except the frustration would grow. But you know
what, reflecting back on what we named this little girl, Baby Hope, I think that's the most accurate
name we could have come up with. And it worked:
Deputy Chief - Joseph J. Reznick

Anjelica's name was eventually added to her tombstone.

UPDATE: November 11, 2014

In April of 2014, Conrado Juarez was scheduled to be in court. In an interview Conrado did from jail, he admitted that he had helped a family member dump the body of Angelica, but insisted he was not the one who had killed her. Conrado seemed to be concerned that if he was convicted, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

Conrado's Lawyer said that he had been forced into admitting to something he had not done, by Police who had not allowed to get any sleep during their interrogation.

I am unable to find anything about if he went to court or was convicted.

Death occurred in the state of New York
This page was created on July 11, 2014

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