“We can always hope, and in all things it is better than to despair.”
The above quote comes courtesy of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German novelist and poet (and at one point, Chief Minister of Weimar). It’s fitting given the story I am going to deliver to you now.
Over twenty years ago in New York, an ice chest was found on the side of the Henry Hudson Parkway. Inside was the badly abused and decomposing body of a four-year-old girl. The NYPD had no name and no reliable missing persons reports to go off of, so the case went cold. Every year on the anniversary of the discovery of the body police would canvass the surrounding area hoping to find even a sliver of useful information. Still the case remained unsolved for over two decades.
Two years after the body – dubbed “Baby Hope” – was found, the unknown young girl was laid to rest in a plot that came courtesy of donations. She was buried in a white dress with a tombstone paid for by the detectives who investigated her case. “Because We Care” inscribed at the bottom of the tombstone as a message to anybody that may have known her that this unfortunate young soul was not alone. Even if she had no family willing to come forward, she sure had one in the police department.
According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, an anonymous tip came in shortly after the latest canvass this past July that led to a possible suspect, a tip that came as the result of a conversation overheard in a laundromat where a woman spoke of her missing sister. Police Commissioner Kelly said;
“That individual’s actions were the catalyst for this most recent lead.”
The lead motivated police to investigate the woman’s family, which led them to Conrado Juarez, the girl’s cousin, who was 30 at the time of the attack. After questioning Juarez outside the restaurant in which he worked as a dishwasher, he was arrested and questioned further until admitting to the crime Saturday morning.
According to Juarez, he went to an apartment building in Queens where several relatives lived. When he saw Baby Hope – whose real name was finally discovered, Anjelica Castillo – in the hallway he attacked her; smothering her as he sexually assaulted her. When she became motionless he alerted his sister who convinced him to hide the body. After tying Anjelica up, he put her in the cooler and then put that inside a garbage bag. He and his sister took a cab to Manhattan where they dumped the cooler by the parkway and went their separate ways.
Thanks to the DNA profile forensics built in 2011 and an anonymous tip in 2013 young Ms. Castillo’s case has finally been solved, and the man responsible is being put away.?Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski said:
“Today, NYPD investigators have given young Anjelica her due justice.”
Retired Detective Jerry Giorgio was involved in the case from the beginning and called himself “elated”. He quipped to reporters:
?”You know the expression ‘I’m on cloud nine’??Well that’s where I am right now.”
And he should be. Hope is an unrelenting force in human nature. It won’t always come through in the way you think it will; maybe not even in the way you want. But sometimes – as is the case with Anjelica Castillo – hope comes through in the name of justice.
Edited/ Published by: SB