Police are now actively looking for the father of Baby Hope, the child whose body was discovered 22 years ago in a discarded cooler, after they confirmed that they identified the girl and her mother following a tip about an overheard conversation. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
Police say the crucial tip that led to the identification of Baby Hope and her mother came from a woman in a laundromat.
The woman finally came forward after seeing posters police put up in July seeking information about the case.
The tipster told them she had overheard some talk years ago while washing her clothes. She heard a woman say that Baby Hope was her younger sister, who had died.
Police investigated and found that the woman the tipster overheard was indeed Baby Hope’s older sibling.
Word of an innocent eavesdropper picking up what would turn out to be such a hot tip in a cold case has raised eyebrows in the communities of Inwood and Washington Heights, where the search for answers in Baby Hope's death was centered.
"You don't think about what you're going to say. You just say it," said one person. "You don't think it's going to have consequences, but it did, and for me, it's good."
"People in laundromats talk about all things, as they do in beauty parlors or, there are certain places where people just speak their mind," said another. "That's where you can get information."
The police have not released Baby Hope's real identity, but they confirmed that DNA samples taken when the child's body was exhumed two years ago matched the mother's DNA.
Authorities say the mother told them that Baby Hope and her sister were taken from her decades ago by their father, and that she tried to find them at the time but couldn't.
Police also say the mother had not been living with Baby Hope's father at the time the girls disappeared.
Detectives in the 34th Precinct are now trying to find relatives of Baby Hope's father after ruling out the mother, for now, as a suspect in the little girl's death 22 years ago.