Virginia Beach police: 20-year-old infant death cold case still very active

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday marks 20 years since an infant, nicknamed “Baby Hope,” was found dead in Virginia Beach.

Cold case detectives are still trying to identify the infant and figure out who her mother could be.

“I’m going to do everything I can to give her a name and just try to figure out why,” cold case homicide Detective Angela Curran said at a news conference Wednesday.

Police say in 1996, the infant’s body was found in a bag, hanging in the female locker room at the Lillian Vernon warehouse on International Parkway. Her body was wrapped in red polo-style shirt.

Police say there were about 4,000 employees at the warehouse at the time the remains were found. 2,800 of them were females.

Police believe the baby may have been delivered inside the locker room. She was carried to term, and was alive after the birth, according to records.

20 years later, Detective Curran is still trying to track down all 2,800 women who used the locker room where Baby Hope was abandoned. She’s asked the women to volunteer DNA swabs — a grueling process of ruling out thousands — to find one.

“They’re everywhere. They’re all over the country,” she said.

Detectives have gone so far as to send resources to Puerto Rico to collect a DNA sample from a former employee.

“It’s time to come forward and give this baby her name,” Curran said.

So far, only 51 samples have been given, Curran said. 41 employees have been ruled out. 10 samples are still at the lab.

“If anyone who worked at the plant has any information whatsoever, please give us a call. No detail is too small.”

As for the mother: “There is a million reasons why someone would do that. And that’s not something for me to judge her on,” Curran said.

The decision to bring charges ultimately rests with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

If you have any information about a former Lillian Vernon employee, or would like to speak with Virginia Beach police, you can call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. You can also reach the cold case hotline at 757-385-4241, or you can submit an online tip here.