VB police get possible break in 1996 death of infant girl

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A possible break in a case Virginia Beach police have investigated for more than 20 years.

In 1996, an infant was found dead in a bag at the old Lillian Vernon warehouse in Virginia Beach. Police say the newborn was found wrapped in a shirt, stuffed in a bag and left in the locker room at the facility off of International Boulevard.

Investigators are still trying to locate the child’s parents.

The infant girl, named “Baby Hope” by police, was discovered Dec. 21, 1996. Lillian Vernon had 4,000 employees at the time, most of them seasonal to help with the Christmas rush. For 21 years, police have had no luck finding who left the baby there. Officers say the infant was still alive and died from suffocation.

Two months ago, detectives announced that new DNA technology confirmed that Hope was of Southeast Asian descent.

According to a search warrant just filed, police have gone through employment records and are honing in on one former employee. The woman — who 10 On Your Side will not name because she has not been charged with any crime — is now 53 years old. She would have been 33 at the time.

Virginia Beach police believed the woman lived in Collin County, Texas.

Last week, the woman was interviewed by investigators from the Collin County Sheriff’s Office. She told them she was a former employee who was there when the baby was found and that the baby was in a plastic bag hanging on a coat hanger near her locker.

She went on to refer to the case as an “accident.”

Police asked the woman to give DNA and she said “oh no,” because she did not want any media to ask her questions.

Collin County detectives told her Virginia Beach police might be contacting her. She reportedly told them, “No, no, no! I don’t want anyone else to contact me.”

The woman told detectives she did not want to hear any more about this and just wanted peace.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for a DNA sample from the woman. When they went back to her Texas home, no one came to the door and it looked as if she left town.

Through a court order, officers tracked her cell phone to a home in Virginia Beach. They were able to get a DNA sample. That sample has now been sent to the state lab and detectives are waiting to find out if she is or isn’t the mother.