The hands of the Sentry Quartz clock on the cinder-block wall outside Courtroom 100 in the Rock Island County Justice Center were stuck at 2:24 Tuesday morning.
For 28 years, time stood still in Moline's Baby April case - until Dec. 17, when detectives from the Moline Police Department arrested Angela Siebke and charged her with the killing of the long-unidentified infant girl known as "Baby April."
The 47-year-old Siebke, from Whitehall, Ohio, appeared in Courtroom 100 via closed-circuit television Tuesday with attorney Steve Hanna and entered a not-guilty plea to a first-degree murder charge in death of the little girl.
Siebke waived her preliminary hearing and formal arraignment. She is being held in the Rock Island County Jail on a bond of $1 million. Her next hearing date is set for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22.
Hanna also asked Judge Norma Kauzlarich to remove herself from the case, a request that was granted.
After the hearing Hanna said he made the request "because it's my client's right and it is just a matter of procedure. We have nothing against Judge Kauzlarich."
Siebke was charged Dec. 17 in Rock Island with the killing of an infant girl found in a trash bag floating along the shores of the Mississippi River near Moline's old 17th Street Park.
The child became known as "Baby April," named for the month in 1992 she was found. She was buried in Riverside Cemetery.
Moline Police Chief Darren Gault said the diligence of detectives and advancements in the use of DNA led to Siebke's arrest.
Gault recalled in 2014 then-Rock Island County States Attorney John McGehee announced a first-degree murder charge against “female contributor to human DNA profile P92-001627."
At the time of McGehee's announcement a warrant was issued for the arrest of a female possessing that DNA profile and was entered into a statewide database. If someone with that DNA profile was identified, the charge would be amended with the legal name of the individual.
Gault explained genetic genealogy tracing and the work done on Baby April's case by a company called Parabon Nanolabs.
"Genetic genealogy is a lead generation tool that can be used to identify human remains by tying DNA to a family or point to the likely identity of an individual whose DNA was found at a crime scene," Gault said.
Genetic genealogists use comparative DNA analysis — the measure of the amount of DNA that is shared between two people, combined with traditional genealogy research using historical records to infer relationships between individuals.
There was another Baby April in the Quad-Cities.
On April 21, 1997, Baby April LeClaire was found in a shallow backyard grave in the Mississippi River town.
The infant’s mother, Carole Bowe, pleaded guilty to intentionally killing the baby, along with another newborn. The body of Baby Leap Year was found in February 1992 and died as the result of a fractured skull.
Bowe was sentenced to two 25-year prison terms in January 1999 for the babies’ murders.
However, she was freed to work-release supervision on Oct. 9, 2012 after serving nearly 13 years. She was granted parole and released to parole supervision in January 2013.
A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections said Bowe is expected to complete her sentence and no longer be under supervision from the DOC in November 2021.
Upon his retirement in 2011, former LeClaire Police Chief James Pfeiffer referred to the Bowe murders as “the most devastating case I ever worked.”
When Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard retired in 2016, he also referred to the case as one that stood out in his memory after 43 years in law enforcement.