A 52-year-old woman was recently arrested and charged with murder for killing her newborn baby boy more than 32 years ago before dumping him near a creek in Castro Valley, authorities said Monday.
The mystery of what happened to Baby John Doe appears to be the latest cold case cracked with the help of genetic genealogy, a DNA linking method that became famous for helping authorities nab the Golden State Killer.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office investigators contacted the boy’s mother, Lesa Lopez of Salida (Stanislaus County), late last month.
Lopez was being held Monday at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a $2 million bail. Her next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
On May 15, 1988, two juveniles walking along “old” Madison Avenue north of Seaview Avenue found the body of the baby boy inside a bag, dumped among trees and bushes on top of an embankment, officials said.
The Chronicle’s coverage of the incident included a story that described the baby as a 2- to 3-day-old, dark-haired Caucasian boy, who was born full term but not delivered in the hospital. The baby was wearing a light blue, adult-sized shirt with a Garfield the Cat logo.
The baby appeared to have been strangled, and investigators ruled the death a homicide.
Investigators at that time contacted local hospitals, distributed press releases and conducted follow-up investigations in search of the mother, but the case went cold for the next three decades.
In July of 1988, approximately 200 people attended a funeral for the boy. The funeral was provided by the leaders of St. Leanders Church in San Leandro, where Father Robert Rein named the boy posthumously.
The baby was called Richard Jayson Terrance Rein, in honor of the pastors and vicars at the church.
Investigators made a major break in the case in 2005, when the sheriff’s crime lab produced a female DNA profile from the scene where the baby was discovered. The profile was run through a national databank of offenders, but no hits occurred.
Sheriff’s Office cold case investigators re-opened the case last summer and began using publicly available genealogy sites, which can allow law enforcement to build family trees based on close genetic matches.
With the help of genetic genealogist Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, and after cross-referencing the DNA profile with items found in Lopez’ trash, investigators linked the profile to her.
Lopez was 20 years old at the time of the baby’s death and lived in Castro Valley, authorities said. She allegedly told investigators she kept the pregnancy a secret from family and friends.
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