DNA tests could ID infant

1982 case of infant girl found in portable toilet at the Huron River Valley Campground.
Courtney Astolfi
Sep 26, 2013


Dormant for more than 30 years, a Milan Township homicide case may soon see new developments.

Wednesday afternoon, Erie County officials exhumed the body of an infant who was originally found dead in the summer of 1982 at Huron River Valley Campground.

At the time, Erie County deputies exhausted their leads and ultimately came up empty-handed. When the department recently began digitizing old files, however, the case stood out as worthy of a second look. Today’s DNA technology could give deputies new information that simply wasn’t available 30 years ago.

On June 2, 1982, a sanitation worker was pumping out the tank of a portable toilet, following a hectic Memorial Day weekend. When his hose became clogged, he made a horrific discovery: the body of a newborn baby girl, with a torn umbilical cord, floating in the waste.    An autopsy determined the child was born alive, then subsequently drowned in the tank. Deputies pored over the campsite’s visitors log, and they even learned a “very pregnant” woman or girl was seen wandering the grounds that weekend. Deputies were never able to identify the child’s parents, let alone arrest a suspect.

Because identifying the child’s mother is a key component to this homicide investigation, investigators decided it’s a prime candidate for DNA analysis.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth conferred with prosecutor Kevin Baxter and coroner Brian Baxter regarding the case’s particulars. The coroner ordered an exhumation of “Baby Jane Doe” from Scott Union Cemetery and sent the remains to the Lucas County coroner’s office Wednesday for further examination.

A tissue sample will be forwarded to a Texas lab equipped to handle extensive DNA testing, Brian Baxter said.

Once the child’s DNA profile is entered into a database, investigators may be able to cross-reference it with the profiles of countless people throughout the country.

“The purpose isn’t always to charge someone,” Sigsworth said. “It’s to find out what happened and also to identify the victim in this case.”

“There are a whole range of circumstances we don’t know,” Kevin Baxter said. If the DNA testing yields a match, detectives still must conduct a complete investigation.

“We don’t want to jump to conclusions before we know who or why someone did this,” Kevin Baxter said. “Maybe there’s someone out there after all these years that may know something about this.”

Sigsworth is urging anyone with any details on the case to contact his office at 419-627-7553, or emailpdefazio@eriecounty.oh.gov.



How heartbreaking is this???? Who does this, discard a baby in the toilet? I hope with the help of DNA they find who did this.


This was before the SR gave dead babies media names. Baby Easter? Meet baby Memorial Day.


I hope this has haunted the mother her entire life. Just horrible.


Of course this probably haunted her, her entire life! However, why would you wish this on someone?

No she did not do the right thing at all, but we do not know what happened. She could have been raped, her family could have abused her. She was probably so afraid, that she felt she had no choice. We do not know!

Clark W. Griswald

Whatever makes you feel better about killing babies...


Talk about judgmental. You two consider maybe the baby was born on the toilet and fell in? If it were a pregnant teen, maybe she didn't know what to do-who to call-or even that she was pregnant to begin with.

There are so many circumstances that could've been other than someone just disposing a newborn in an outhouse.


I am not in the medical field, but I would venture to guess that since the umbilical cord was torn, that the mother went to use the toilet and gave birth. Teens were not as informed about sex as they are now. She probably didn't know what to do. I doubt that they will find a DNA match. Not everyone's DNA is on record.


This is such a sad story. Regardless if it was a lonely pregnant teen who didn't know what to do, or someone who deliberately discarded an infant... it's a sickening story. I think we'd all be suprised to learn about all these cold cases that were never closed due to testing. There is one coming up in Bellevue too. A mother was murdered in her own home. I was friends with the son... they never found the murderer, although they suspected she was killed by someone from within the home. I hear it's going to be aired on TV. Oct 5th (or 15th)... I've been told both. I wonder if something has spurred up all these unsolved murders... that's two in the past two days I've heard about that are not being re-examined. That poor infant, drowning in a toilet. AWFUL and heartbreaking!


I had my first child in 1978 and knew better than to give birth in a toilet. I was plenty informed about sex as a teenager as my mother talked to me about it and we had health classes in school. I can understand that this might have been an accident but the fact that she didn't go get help to possibly save the child tells me that she was trying to hide the fact that she was having a baby. So yes, I am judging her.


I am willing to share my experience with young girls being pregnant. My sons girlfriend was 18 years old and she was 28 weeks pregnant according to the doctors at Rainbow Babies in Cleveland, Ohio. She called my wife and said I can't stop peeing(her water had broke). My wife said get to the hospital now. They transported her to Rainbow Babies in Cleveland, Ohio where she gave birth to my 28 week old Granddaughter. SHE HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS PREGNANT, SHE HAD NOT GAINED AN OUNCE AND WAS A SIZE ZERO. MY Granddaughter weighed 2 pounds and 9 0unces. MY Granddaughter is four years old now and is the most perfect little girl that anyone could ever imagine. I feel sorry for the relatives that were cheated from the most awesome blessing that anyone could have. Judge not lest you also be judged.

JMOP's picture

Not sure how a woman could not know she's pregnant. I've had two children. After I was a week late, and knowing I am sexually active with my husband, I put two and two together. Got a pregnancy test to confirm it. Not rocket sience.
Throughout pregnancy there are many signs. If people didn't know they were pregnant, then they didn't "want" to know they were pregnant.


my sister was pregnant with twins and she didn't know it. she never put weight on her body didn't change at all. so yes folks its possible to be pregnant and nor know about it. till its to late.

JMOP's picture

Weight isn't the only sign. Most women find out in their first tri-semester, before the the pounds come packing on.

Your menstrual cycle stops. Yes. It stops. If they say it doesn't they are delusional. Woman may spot, but it's not a period. They should know the difference. Also your hair and nails grow more than usual. Your smell is more heightened. You should be able to feel fluttering, especially with twins. Going to the bathroom more often than usual (the baby presses on the bladder). Put all these signs together, along with having sex, you should know you're pregnant.

As far as people saying about this lady's circumstance, it's no justification for killing a baby because somebody said they didn't know were pregnant. Ignorance isn't excused by the law. Thank goodness for that.


JMOP, I agree 100 percent that the person responsible for this should be held accountable for the murder. I will even take it a step further and say that all women who murder their babies should be held accountable. But abortion clinics are allowing women to murder their children and walk out the same day. Their ignorance will not be excused either come judgement day. They will stand and face the true law maker. THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.