Westland man charged in Grand Blanc teen's slaying

Wyoming woman arrested in death of baby found in U.P. outhouse 25 years ago

Kayla Ruble
The Detroit News

A woman has been arrested in Wyoming in the death of a baby girl whose unidentified remains were discovered in a campground latrine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula 25 years ago.

The Mackinac County Sheriff’s Office announced the development in a news release on Wednesday, saying DNA evidence and genealogy tracing had provided a breakthrough in the case and helped lead investigators to a 58-year-old suspect. Authorities identified her as the mother of the infant.

Investigators say they interviewed the woman earlier this week in Wyoming, where she allegedly “provided probable cause” for charges of homicide-open murder of the baby whose case has gripped the local community for decades.

"Investigators followed up on the information and identified the mother as a 58-year-old former resident of the Garnet (Michigan) area who is now residing in the state of Wyoming," Sheriff Edward M. Wilk said.

The woman was in custody and was awaiting extradition, the Sheriff's Office said. She will be arraigned once she has arrived in Michigan. 

The infant’s remains were found in the septic tank of an outhouse at Garnet Campground in Hudson Township in Mackinac County on June 26, 1997. Authorities said she could have died several weeks earlier. At the time, the body was too decomposed to be identified or to reveal details like the child’s race. 

It’s unknown whether the baby was already dead or still alive when she was left inside a vertical toilet. Autopsy results indicated she was likely at about 38 to 40 weeks of gestation when she died, meaning she was close to full-term. 

At the time, the investigation failed to produce conclusive results. The infant was never positively identified and the case eventually went cold, according to the statement from Wilk.

Investigators returned to the cold case in 2017 to conduct a review and look for new leads. They decided to incorporate forensic genetic genealogy into the investigation, which helped trace family bloodlines and provide the name of a birth mother. 

The death had an effect on the local community, who adopted the baby after its death and gave her the names Baby Pomegranate and Baby Garnet, after the place she was found. 

Residents raised nearly $1,000 to provide a burial and hosted a funeral service for the infant.