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October 13, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

After 22 years, an arrest has been made in the 1991 murder of "Baby Hope."

The child, now known to be 4 year old Anjelica Castillo, was found murdered (presumably malnourished and sexually assaulted) and stuffed in a cooler in the summer of 1991. Her identity was unknown for so long because her parents never reported her missing.

1992 story about the investigation

“We weren’t going to call her Jane Doe,” said Jerry Giorgio, the lead detective on the case, now retired. He and other detectives collected the money for the headstone and buried her years after she was found. “We are her family,” Detective Giorgio said that day. “We are burying our baby.”
posted by roomthreeseventeen (30 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Good job. And, I have to say, that's some investigational tenacity right there.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:36 AM on October 13, 2013


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Now they can finally put a name on her tombstone.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:43 AM on October 13, 2013


So sad. And still so many questions- like why her parents never reported her missing?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 AM on October 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Or why the taxi driver who picked up a man and a woman and a large blue cooler, and dropped them off somewhere close by where the body was found, never went to police after the discovery was all over the media.
posted by jokeefe at 7:49 AM on October 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the one hand, yes she should have a headstone with her true name. But on the other hand, is her 'true' name the name she was given at birth, the name of her abusive family, or is her name really the one she's been known and remembered by for all these years: Hope?
posted by easily confused at 7:55 AM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


like why her parents never reported her missing?
The answer is mostly in the first link? Her parents split up, dad got 2 kids and mom got Anjelica. Mom's brother came over, raped her, then smothered her to death. Mom (who had already been starving her at least) got a cooler to put the body in, and together they dumped the cooler with the body in it.
posted by kavasa at 8:02 AM on October 13, 2013


Wait sorry, I misread. Anjelica was one of the two that went to live with dad. She lived in a house with several other relatives. Mr. Ramirez, the murderer, was brother to one of those relatives.
posted by kavasa at 8:06 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The part about the work kinda creeped me out, like... You're working next to this guy with no idea what he did. For years you may have joked and laughed with him, and then you find out, like, wtf?

And yeah, why the hell did none of her family report her? Like, not a single one. And apparently "Failure to report a missing child" is NOT a crime, necessarily, and certainly not at the federal level? Like, fer realz?
posted by symbioid at 8:06 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also - I have a problem with giving them the titles Ms. and Mr. They don't deserve that. I don't think they should be treated as subhuman, but they should not be given titles that generally confer respect.
posted by symbioid at 8:07 AM on October 13, 2013


I'm glad someone cared and cares about that poor little girl.
posted by discopolo at 8:09 AM on October 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Failure to report is an extremely common problem with immigrant communities, who don't trust the police for a number of reasons.
posted by kavasa at 8:10 AM on October 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also - I have a problem with giving them the titles Ms. and Mr. They don't deserve that. I don't think they should be treated as subhuman, but they should not be given titles that generally confer respect.

That's NY Times style, though. I wouldn't be comfortable with them making moral decisions on who is called "Mr" or "Ms." That blanket policy doesn't take anything away from the horror of their crime.
posted by sweetkid at 8:11 AM on October 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


The part about the work kinda creeped me out, like... You're working next to this guy with no idea what he did. For years you may have joked and laughed with him, and then you find out, like, wtf?

It's also extremely unlikely, I think, that a man would rape and murder a four-year old on impulse, and only once. I wonder how many other victims he might have had-- not children killed, but children attacked... sounds like a family culture of neglect and abuse, as well, if the girl was already starving before she was killed.
posted by jokeefe at 8:21 AM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The non-reporting by the family members doesn't strike me as so surprising. Per the article DNA Info reports that the mother told police her then-husband had taken the girl and their other daughter in 1991, but that she was afraid to go to police because she feared what he would do to her or the girls if he found out she had reported him.. Presumably the father was complicit in the abuse, or cared more about his brother than his child. I just wonder how much abuse the surviving sister went through in that household.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:21 AM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd be more down with calling it case closed if the confession hadn't been after a 14 hour interrogation, given past false convictions. The murder scenario is entirely, depressingly believable, but I am no longer comfortable with cases that have only a confession under long pressure as evidence, because past history shows that a certain number of people will make false confessions under that kind of stress.
posted by tavella at 8:46 AM on October 13, 2013 [22 favorites]


He confessed, but also pleaded not guilty? I'm sure that happens frequently, but count me too in the skeptical camp. It all sounds plausible, but ever since I read John Grisham's book "The Innocent Man" I have been very, very skeptical of confessions obtained under duress.
posted by COD at 9:53 AM on October 13, 2013


True - but it's not like Juarez was some random dude that got racially profiled into a line-up in a rush to justice back in 1991 when the case was in the news. It says that police got the tip about the overheard laundrymat conversation in the summer, so, it seems like they've had time to build up the circumstantial evidence around him.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:06 AM on October 13, 2013


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posted by daisyk at 10:17 AM on October 13, 2013


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posted by ambrosia at 10:42 AM on October 13, 2013


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And good on the police for not giving up. We hear enough bad things about the police nowadays.
posted by Samizdata at 10:55 AM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by learnsome at 11:19 AM on October 13, 2013


Fascinating that, all the way back in 1991, the investigators actually did have a witness's description of Juarez and his sister hiding the body.

This article has more info on police interviews with the mother. It sounds like she had a terrible time.

I wonder if Anjelica's father knew what had happened to her. It could be inferred from the WSJ article that the parents were undocumented immigrants, another motive not to go to the police.
posted by torticat at 11:32 AM on October 13, 2013


He confessed, but also pleaded not guilty? I'm sure that happens frequently, but count me too in the skeptical camp.

I am certainly wary of coerced confessions in general as well, but pleading not guilty at this (extremely early) stage is largely just a procedural step -- even if his confession was not coerced and he is indeed factually guilty -- especially when the defendant has a court-appointed lawyer who has spent essentially zero time on the case.
posted by scody at 11:34 AM on October 13, 2013


I really hope they have the right guy, but either way this is a pretty amazing story of police tenacity. Good on those guys.

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"The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is the duty of the living to do so for them."
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:48 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


He confessed, but also pleaded not guilty? I'm sure that happens frequently, but count me too in the skeptical camp.

You're a Public Defender, you client is up on murder charges, and you've met with him for all of 15 minutes before his arraignment. He could have video taped and handed in his own confession and you'd plead him not guilty just to buy time to conference with him.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:34 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm glad someone cared and cares about that poor little girl.

If there's anything that moves me to tears more than anything (beyond the horror of the crime itself), it is this.

When you go through a significant loss in your family, one of the things that aches is the idea that someone you care so much about is starting to be forgotten, when those who send cards and call with condolences start to make less contact. You feel that you are one of the few people carrying the memory of a person, or care deep down to carry that memory with integrity. It's not that people forget, really, but they don't remember the same way, and you ache with the idea that at some point, your beloved person will no longer be remembered by people who care enough in the right way.

This little girl didn't have anyone who cared to remember her at the time with integrity. Except for the people that pursued this for 22 years. That little girl was not forgotten, even though no one in her family gave enough of a damn to even report her missing. For anyone who's had significant loss, that's some pretty significant stuff, just right there. It speaks for the infinitely inherent value of people, even if you've never met them.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:57 PM on October 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


And yeah, why the hell did none of her family report her? Like, not a single one. And apparently "Failure to report a missing child" is NOT a crime, necessarily, and certainly not at the federal level? Like, fer realz?

In multiple articles it's stated the mother was afraid for the safety of her other child if she came forward. She and other family members were also afraid of deportation. It does not sound like nobody gave a damn, but they were afraid of consequences from the abuser and the authorities.
posted by schroedinger at 5:53 PM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


He confessed, but also pleaded not guilty?

Pleading guilty means you get no trial. Pleading not guilty is the default choice for anyone facing murder charges because at least there is time bought to work on a plea deal, but also to ensure that you can face a trial and force the prosecution to prove the case against you. Since this is a basic right explicitly protected by the Constitution, it's pretty strange that some people look sideways at it.

(In my local paper, it was once common to see people act as if pleading not guilty was a moral crime unto itself.)

Anyway, one of the more astonishing -- though not surprising -- facts is that in 1991, New York had over two thousand homicides, but this year so far, fewer than 300. That's a lot of investigative resources to free up.

And apparently "Failure to report a missing child" is NOT a crime, necessarily, and certainly not at the federal level?

I'm not sure why it would be at the federal level. The majority of personal and violent crimes are handled at the state level. There is a model law for failure to report a missing child, Caylee's Law, and it has yet to be enacted in New York State. More usually failure to report a crime would fall under some type of obstruction of justice, but in this case members of the family were never questioned, which is an unusual circumstance.

even though no one in her family gave enough of a damn to even report her missing

I understand the sentiment, but I feel this is privilege talking. This happened in a marginalized community, unfamiliar with and with reason to fear the local workings of the law. It may be infuriating, but it's hardly irrational.

Having just watched Chinatown, I'll bring up the line from the movie ("What did you do in Chinatown?" / "As little as possible"), which has several layers of meaning in narrative context. But the genesis was screenwriter Robert Towne hearing an anecdote from an LA cop while doing research that when he worked in that city's Chinatown, the multiplicity of dialects, ethnic divisions, and gangs or power interests meant that the white police often didn't understand enough about the community to be providing it with the protection it deserved -- to put it charitably -- or were simply too detached to care much about the community, or suspected they were interfering with a system of community justice that wasn't obvious or accessible to them to manipulate. Not that many immigrants, similarly, come from backgrounds where trusting the police is the default response. You go to a power broker inside your community to get effective justice or consequence.

I don't think everything about this case has yet come out by a long shot, but I wonder if it will turn out that the family felt the protection of the perpetrator was indeed more important than any other consideration, or whether there were other factors such as some sort of intra-familial exile or shunning.
posted by dhartung at 6:07 PM on October 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


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I have a lot of sympathy, also, for the sister, who must have grown up in an absolutely unspeakable emotional landscape. Imagine knowing that your sister was completely disposable, that she was murdered and no one could or would do anything about it -- and to continue to feel that helplessness about the situation into your adult life.

This case reminded me of the Boy in the Box in Philadelphia, a 1950s case regarding a boy of about five years old, that is still unsolved. Before clicking, please note that that link shows an old poster that displays the dead child's face. In order to get him identified, the police also released photos of the little boy propped up in a sitting position, in the clothes he was wearing. There wasn't much forensic reconstruction back then. Although the child is not decomposed, it is a hell of a thing to have to look at, and probably the reason I recall it immediately now.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:07 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:25 PM on October 13, 2013


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