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Tuesday
Oct082013

NYPD Identifies Mother in 22-Year-Old 'Baby Hope' Cold Case

NYPD(NEW YORK) -- Police in New York, investigating the cold case of an unidentified dead child dubbed "Baby Hope," claim they have identified the girl's mother through an anonymous tip and DNA testing.

The mother is not a suspect in the child's death and police are looking for the little girl's father, police said.

The body of the girl was found inside a cooler in a wooded area near the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood in 1991. Police said that the girl, who was between 3 and 5 years old, had been malnourished and was sexually abused.

"We have been able to identify the mother of Baby Hope," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday. "A DNA match was made with the mother and the mother is cooperating."

The NYPD began a new push this summer after they reopened the case that has haunted detectives for over two decades. After canvassing Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood and distributing fliers, detectives were able to identify the girl's mother.

Kelly would not give the mother's name or age, but confirmed that the baby was born in New York City.

DNA was used to match the woman with the child last week, according to Kelly, after the mother was found through a tip that was sent to investigators.

"We did receive a call to our TIPS hotline that put us in the right direction and ultimately a DNA sample was recovered from the mother," Kelly said. "This was matched to a DNA determination made in 2011 when the body was exhumed."

Sources familiar with the case told ABC News that the posters distributed in the neighborhood jogged the memory of a woman who said she remembered overhearing another woman discussing the case in a Washington Heights laundromat.

The tipster told detectives that the woman knew about the case and spoke like she was the dead girl's mother.

Detectives spoke to the Washington Heights woman, and after several weeks of emotional interviews, she admitted that she always suspected her missing daughter was the dead girl. She told police that her husband disappeared with her two daughters in 1991, and that she never told the police because she feared his wrath. She told police that her older daughter returned home about eight years later, but never told her mother what happened to her sibling.

Detectives are now looking for the father, who is considered a person of interest in Baby Hope's death. He has not been seen since he ran off with the two daughters.

The mother provided a DNA sample, and it linked her to the "Baby Hope" remains. She is not considered a suspect in the death.

There are still no official suspects in the case, according to McCarthy. The case is still being investigated as a homicide.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio