HERMITAGE, Pa. (WYTV) – For police in Hermitage, the mystery started 50 years ago. On July 2, 1970, the remains of a newborn baby were found buried in a styrofoam cooler. Now there are new developments in this cold case.
The baby girl was found near a dirt road off of Lynwood Drive in what was then Hickory Township.
“The baby was born less than a week prior and had received medical care consistent with that provided in a hospital, however, we were never able to identify her,” Dep. Chief Joel Ristvey said.
Now, decades later, investigators are hoping DNA technology will identify the baby’s parents.
About six weeks ago, the baby’s remains were exhumed from a little plot with no headstone at Oakwood Cemetery in Sharon. Hermitage police detectives, Mercer County’s district attorney, FBI agents, and a group of forensic researchers and grad students from Mercyhurst University in Erie were all there.
Even if the parents’ identities are discovered, police still won’t know why they did it.
“Only you can tell us that. Only you can help your loved ones understand. DNA can’t do that,” Ristvey said.
“A number of girls are placed in a position where maybe they have experienced pregnancy and they don’t know why, or how or the consequences surrounding it,” said Alyson Stover, an occupational therapist for adolescents and teenagers.
Stover said Pennsylvania law allows mothers to give their children up with no questions asked.
“These safe haven laws give them an opportunity to provide an experience for the baby to survive and thrive,” Stover said.
This week, police issued a personal appeal to the parents:
“First, due to recent advances in DNA technology, we now believe we will be able to identify this baby and her mother and father. We will be initiating this process shortly and are optimistic we will obtain positive results.
Second, we would like to speak from the heart to the person who laid the baby down off Lynnwood Drive in what was then Hickory Township near Swamp Road (now Broadway Avenue, State Route 0760) at the Taylor Sand Banks parking area 50 years ago.
The DNA will tell us who placed the baby there that day. But it won’t tell us why.
It won’t tell us the emotions you must have struggled with that day, the pain you must have experienced. It won’t tell us why you initially rendered care but then couldn’t care for her any longer. It won’t tell us the turmoil you’ve felt inside ever since. It won’t reveal the number of times you considered coming forward but were too scared. It won’t tell us the family and friends you’ve created in the time that has passed. It won’t tell us all the good you’ve done. And it won’t tell us the person you really are.
Only you can do that. Only you can help your loved ones understand. DNA can’t do that.”
“We want to give you this opportunity to come talk with us, to give you the chance to explain to your family and friends before the DNA results come back,” Ristvey said.
Anyone with information can reach Ristvey directly at 724-983-6782 ext. 3.