Baby Hope’s Tombstone Newly Engraved With Slain Girl’s Real Name

Holy water and tears marked the unveiling of the headstone, newly engraved with the name Anjelica Castillo

The family of the slain 4-year-old girl known for decades as Baby Hope and the investigators who spent years tracking down her killer got some closure Friday as her real name was finally put on her tombstone. 

Holy water and tears marked the unveiling of the headstone, newly engraved with the name Anjelica Castillo below the only name she's had for decades, Baby Hope. The Rev. Rudy Gonzalez declared at the ceremony at St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx, "Bless the engraving of Anjelica's name and bless any child who at this moment may be suffering at the hands of evil hearts." 

Her mother and other family members left flowers and candles for a loved one who would now be 26 years old. 

"I'm just glad that her name is on her stone," said the girl's sister Lorena Castillo. 

In 1991, the body of then 4-year-old Anjelica was discovered in a cooler by the highway near Washington Heights. She had been sexually abused and suffocated. 

"We couldn't imagine how anybody could be so cruel to such an innocent little child," said retired detective Jerry Giorgio. 

Giorgio and retired chief Joseph Resnick were lead investigators on the original case, one that went cold but was never forgotten. Police gave the unknown child the name Baby Hope and paid for her tombstone. 

"I'm sad, the fact that we have a dead little girl who should now be 26 years old, vibrant, working, perhaps bearing children herself," said Resnick.

Last July, police relaunched their efforts on the 22nd anniversary of the date the slain child was found, blitzing Washington Heights with posters bearing her sketch. The very next day, Crime Stoppers got a call. 

Detective Elena Donnell said the caller "gave specific family members, where to look -- ethnicity, origin, approximate dates of birth, and she turned out to be right." 

In October, police announced the arrest of 52-year-old Conrado Juarez, a cousin on Anjelica's father's side. Juarez, who has said he was coerced into a confession, was charged with murder and is due back in court Thursday. 

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