The murdered child known for 22 years as Baby Hope finally has a legal name: Angelica Ramirez. Police are focusing on the case again and have named her biological father as the prime suspect in her murder, which took place in New York in 1991.
"She really was an angel," a law-enforcement source told the New York Post.
Authorities are satisfied to finally know the name of the little girl who was found naked, beaten, and sexually assaulted inside a cooler by the side of the road in Inwood. Police were able to match a DNA sample from the girl's body to that of a woman claiming to be her mother and thus discover her name.
The mother, whose name has not been revealed just yet, apparently believed that she thought Hope was still alive and with her father. Investigators now believe that the man murdered the girl and is either still living in New York City or fled to Mexico after the murder.
"She believed the daughter was taken from her," a police source told the New York Daily News. "She said she made attempts to locate her and was unsuccessful."
The NYPD has renewed efforts to solve the cold case in the wake of the 22-year anniversary. An anonymous phone tip led officers to Ramirez's older sister, who then led police to their mother.
"There was always hope – that's why we named her 'Baby Hope,'" retired Detective Jerry Giorgio told the press. "Just getting her identified means a great deal. This is absolutely one of the best days I've had in my career."
Police working her case took up a collection and buried the little girl in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. Her headstone reads simply "Baby Hope" and the date she was found, along with the phone number of a tip line asking for information leading to her identity. Det. Giorgio told the New York Times that he wants to get her a new headstone, one bearing her true name.
"We're going to have to redo it. I don't know if that's going to entail getting a new stone," he noted. "This case really captivated the public and the department. Guys were going all the time."
"This has been an investigation that has been conducted for the last 22 years, and the detectives in the 34th Precinct Detective and Cold Case Squad did great work," Commissioner Ray Kelly told The Post. "I'm proud of them."