On April 11, 1992, a man walking his dog found the body of a full-term baby girl in a plastic bag floating along the bank of the Mississippi River off 17th Street in Moline.
The girl, dubbed Baby Girl April, died from a combination of suffocation and hypothermia.
"What the man found still haunts police and has them wondering why someone would discard a healthy full-term baby 24 hours or less prior to the discovery," Moline Police Detective Scott Williams told the Quad-City Times in April 2014.
Twenty-five years later, her killer has not been found. However, her case is still very much on the minds of police and prosecutors.
“We have a job as prosecutors to do what we can to solve these cold cases,” Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said. “It’s an issue that just hangs over our head and we don’t like to have open cases like this.”
Five days after the discovery of her body, Baby Girl April was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Moline.
Over the year, police have worked to identify the mother of the baby, but with no success.
In December 2014, McGehee announced that he had filed a first-degree murder charge against a DNA profile of an unknown female. The DNA was found at the crime scene.
McGehee said that although a suspect has not been identified, a DNA profile is specific enough to file a criminal charge under Illinois law.
The charge also was meant to let the community know that the case is still being investigated.
McGehee and Moline Police Detective Michael Griffin, the lead investigator in the case, said in 2014 that they were in the process of submitting more DNA evidence to the University of North Texas to conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis, which can help determine the family lineage of Baby Girl April.
McGehee said Thursday that there have been no hits yet on the DNA. He said Griffin periodically checks in to make sure “we’re not forgotten here in Moline.”
McGehee said it is frustrating that the case has not been solved.
“There are cases that are considered to be cold cases and we have them from time to time where there’s nothing new that happens,” he said. “And law enforcement, it’s frustrating to them, too, because they put a lot of time and a lot of effort and energy into these cases and they really do want to try to get them solved. It’s open on their books and it’s open on ours as well.”
Between 1988 and 2003, a total of 18 babies were found either abandoned or dead in the Quad-Cities.
Both Iowa and Illinois passed safe-haven legislation in 2001 to try to prevent such cases. In Illinois, a parent can take a newborn to a hospital, fire or police station, or an emergency medical center and leave in complete privacy without fear of prosecution. In Iowa, a baby can be taken to a hospital, health clinic or nursing home without fear of prosecution.
“We’re not seeing nearly as many cases as we did in the past because of the law, as well as the social agencies and what they have done to create and environment where if someone cannot care for their baby, there are services out there for that individual," McGehee said. "I think that message is out there now and so we just don’t see it nearly as much as in the past.”
McGehee is hopeful that justice will come one day for Baby Girl April.
“I have to remain hopeful that at some point there will be a hit from the DNA,” he said, "that we will be able to get some answers to what happened and why it happened. Until then, I don’t think we can give up. We have to continue to push for and try to get this case solved.”
Anyone with information on the Baby Girl April case may contact Moline police at 309-797-0401 or Crime Stoppers of the Quad-Cities at 309-762-9500.