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Police arrest mother after using forensic genealogy to solve the cold case death of ‘Baby Michael’

Mother, 54, is accused of the cold-case death of newborn “Baby Michael” who was thrown out of a moving car into a bag with his umbilical cord still stuck 21 years ago – after police used forensic genealogy to track her down

  • “Baby Michael” was found dead in a plastic bag along a road in March 1999 in Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • His umbilical cord was still confirmed and it was determined that he died of bone trauma after being thrown out of a moving car
  • The police argued for the parents to come forward, but nobody ever did and the case got cold
  • Detective recently sent DNA to a forensic genealogy company that developed a family line for ‘Baby Michael’
  • When the police questioned Deborah Riddle O’Conner, 54, she admitted that she was the newborn’s mother
  • She was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder, and is currently being held without a bond

Deborah Riddle O’Conner, 54 (photo), was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after admitting being the mother of “Baby Michael.”

North Carolina authorities say they have resolved a 21-year-old cold case after locating a woman accused of killing her newborn son and dumping his body along a road.

Deborah Riddle O’Conner, 54, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff office.

Researchers claim O’Conner, who gave birth to the baby boy, nicknamed “Baby Michael,” before putting him in a garbage bag and throwing him out of a moving car.

The child died of blunt strength trauma, the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

On March 3, 1999, a soldier saw a plastic bag on the side of Canady Pond Road that he thought contained a doll, reported The Fayetteville observer.

Instead, he found a dead newborn – not even a day old – with the umbilical cord still attached.

According to The Observer, the child had a fractured skull, pelvis and spine, as well as cracks in his liver and one lung.

“We knew the baby was alive when he was thrown out the window,” former detective Charlie Disponzio, who first appeared on the scene, told the newspaper in 2018.

“It really came home when the [medical examiner’s] report came out that the baby lived when he was born and lived when he was thrown out of the vehicle. ”

The newborn was found dead in March 1999 in a plastic bag on the side of a road in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On the photo: the grave of Baby Michael in the Hair's Chapel Freewill Holiness Church in 2004

The newborn was found dead in March 1999 in a plastic bag on the side of a road in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On the photo: the grave of Baby Michael in the Hair's Chapel Freewill Holiness Church in 2004

The newborn was found dead in March 1999 in a plastic bag on the side of a road in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On the photo: the grave of Baby Michael in the Hair’s Chapel Freewill Holiness Church in 2004

Authorities determined that the baby was thrown out of a moving car and the cause of death was determined as a bone trauma. Pictured: a plaque in honor of Baby Michael in 2009

Authorities determined that the baby was thrown out of a moving car and the cause of death was determined as a bone trauma. Pictured: a plaque in honor of Baby Michael in 2009

Authorities determined that the baby was thrown out of a moving car and the cause of death was determined as a bone trauma. Pictured: a plaque in honor of Baby Michael in 2009

The soldier called the police, who were looking for the baby’s parents, but nobody came forward.

Investigators called the child “Baby Michael,” honored for the patron saint of law enforcement officers.

The observer reports that a funeral for the baby was held on March 30, 1999 in the Hair’s Chapel Free Will Holiness Church and he was buried in the cemetery of the church.

The case became cold until recently when DNA samples were sent to Bode Technology, a forensic genealogy company.

Bode developed a family line for ‘Baby Michael’, which gave researchers a new pool of suspects.

Detectives used the results to locate O’Conner more than 200 miles west of where the baby was found, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.

When the police questioned her, she admitted to the investigators that she was the boy’s mother.

O’Conner was charged with first-degree murder just two weeks before the 21st anniversary of the day Baby Michael was discovered.

She is currently being held at the Cumberland County Detention Center without and will appear in court on Friday according to the observer.

It is unclear whether O’Conner has a lawyer who can respond on her behalf.

A breakthrough in the case happened recently when investigators sent DNA to a forensic medicine genealogy company that developed a family line for “Baby Michael.” On the photo: Then-Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler looks out after laying a wreath on the tombstone of ‘Baby Michael’ in 2009

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