‘Baby Mary’ cold case is cracked as New Jersey cops charge mother of newborn found dead in the woods on Christmas Eve nearly 40 years ago following DNA breakthrough
The infamous ‘Baby Mary’ cold case was solved almost forty years later, with the newborn’s mother charged for her daughter’s death following a DNA breakthrough.
Baby Mary was found dead on Christmas Eve 1984 in a remote wooded area near Mendham Township, New Jersey. She was wrapped in a blanket in a plastic bag with the umbilical cord still attached.
Two boys made the gruesome discovery while walking along a stream near Mt. Pleasant Road, police said. The medical examiner revealed that the baby was less than a day old when she died. Her death was ruled a homicide.
On Thursday, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Caroll made the stunning announcement that the parents have been identified and an arrest has been made.
The baby’s father died years ago and the mother, now 57, is charged with manslaughter. Carroll said the mother’s name has not been released because she was a minor when the crime occurred, and she is being charged as such, the prosecutor said: NJ Advanced Media reported.
Carroll said their findings in the decades-long cold case were a combination of “new technology and old-fashioned police work.”
A chaplain in St. Joseph’s Church named the abandoned child Mary. He baptized the deceased child and made a small grave for her final resting place. Her tombstone contains a cross and a passage from Isaiah 49:15. ‘BABY MARY December 24, 1984. ‘I will never forget you. I cut you in the palm of my hand’
Every Christmas Eve the community gathered and held a service at the baby’s grave
Morris County Prosecutor Robert Caroll (pictured) made the stunning announcement during a news conference Thursday that the parents have been identified and an arrest has been made.
Authorities arrested the mother on April 24 in South Carolina, where she had reportedly lived, more than 38 years after the horrific act.
She is not currently in custody but is “being monitored,” Carroll said. If she is found guilty, she faces up to three years in prison, the news channel reported.
“The death and abandonment of this girl is a tragic loss, and even after 40 years, it remains just as heartbreaking,” Carroll said.
Officials said the teen, who was just 17 at the time, left her infant daughter in a remote park on a cold winter night in Mendham Township.
She is charged as a minor, for juvenile delinquency and for manslaughter. If the crime were committed by an adult, it would be a second-degree felony. NBC4 New York reported.
According to detectives, the baby’s father died years ago before he was identified by investigators.
Carroll said the man, who was 19 at the time, did not know the baby had been born and was not involved in her death. He died in 2009.
No possible motive or reason for abandoning the baby was given.
A chaplain in St. Joseph’s Church named the abandoned child Mary. He baptized the deceased child and made a small grave for her final resting place.
Her tombstone contains a cross and a passage from Isaiah 49:15. ‘BABY MARY December 24, 1984. ‘I will never forget you. I cut you in the palm of my hand.”
Every Christmas Eve, the community gathered and held a service at the baby’s grave, with members of the Mendham Township Police Department in attendance.
A December 2022 post read in part: “The baby was subsequently adopted by the MTPD with the help of our Chaplain Father Mike Drury, appropriately named Baby Mary, and given a proper burial at St Joe’s in the Boce.
“Every Christmas Eve at noon, MPTD officers, along with a member of the community, perform a small funeral service in her memory so that she is not forgotten.”
During Thursday’s press conference, the prosecutor said this “arrest is the culmination of decades of effort spanning multiple generations of law enforcement.”
“The death and abandonment of this girl is a tragic loss and remains just as heartbreaking even after nearly 40 years,” Carroll said.
“Justice may not take the form the public has imagined all these years, but we believe this juvenile delinquency complaint will serve justice for Baby Mary. Nothing can right this terrible evil.”
A December 2022 message from Mendham Township Police inviting the public to a service honoring Baby Mary on Christmas Eve at noon. Those present are officers of the MTPD
Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll and Morris County Sheriff James Gannon
Officers play flowers at the cemetery where Baby Mary’s final resting place is
In 1984, when the crime occurred, the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act did not yet exist in the state of New Jersey. The bill became law in August 2000.
“I want young parents to know that help is available,” said Sheriff James Gannon.
He explained that the legislation allows parents or their representatives to anonymously deliver a newborn baby to a hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, emergency room or rescue squad that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And, further explained, if the baby is found to be 30 days or less old and free from abuse or neglect, the baby will be accepted with no questions asked.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Mendham Township Police or Morris County Sherriff’s Office are asking the public to contact them if anyone has any information regarding Baby Mary’s death.