UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS - People who know Conrado Juarez, the man allegedly behind the murder of 'Baby Hope' in 1991, say they're in disbelief that their neighbor is an accused child murderer.
This week, police finally learned the identity of “Baby Hope,” the 4-year-old girl found dead inside a cooler more than 20 years ago. Police revealed that her real name was Anjelica Castillo. The cold case was solved by a DNA sampling and a tip from a woman who knew the girl's sister.
Juarez, a cousin of Castillo's father, was arrested yesterday and charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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Police say the 52-year-old admitted to molesting the little girl and suffocating her. He and his sister then allegedly tied the child's body up and stuffed her inside a cooler, which they left on the Hudson River Parkway.
Police say Castillo's mother didn't have custody of her at the time of her murder, and she was living with Juarez's sister, who is now deceased.
Juarez lived in University Heights. Neighbors say they're shocked by the news. They say they would often see Juarez collecting empty soda cans around the neighborhood.
Many are happy an arrest has finally been made in this outstanding case, but they are left wondering why relatives never came forward to report the child missing.