A woman has been arrested and charged with murder in California due to the 1988 death of her newborn son. According to authorities, the case was solved because of genetic genealogy.
The identity of the newborn had been a mystery for quite some time. On May 15, 1988, two children were playing in the San Francisco Bay area when they discovered a paper bag left in the woods on the bank of a creek.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly revealed the baby was allegedly born alive and killed later, according to a statement.
The boy was at first identified as Baby Joe Doe. After his autopsy, the baby was given a funeral at St. Leanders Church in San Leandro.
Over 200 people attended the memorial service, where a priest named the baby Richard Jayson Terrance Rein after the church’s priests and vicars.
The case went cold due to a few leads but in 2005, investigators conducted DNA testing on the evidence collected from the crime scene. And while they identified the DNA of a woman they believed to be the baby’s mother, she was considered a suspect, but could not be identified.
Last year, investigators reopened the case last year. They consulted with forensic genetic genealogy experts from the FBI and several private labs along with Gene-by-Gene, which owns the genealogy website FamilyTreeDNA.
Eventually, authorities discovered Lesa Lopez, 52. Sgt. Kelly says they used genealogy research and surveillance to locate Lopez and then collected DNA from her discarded trash the police statement reveals.
Lopez admitted to the murder while being questioned by police according to the police statement,
“Lopez, who was 20 years old at the time of the incident, told investigators she hid the pregnancy from her family and friends and provided details of what happened,” the statement alleges.
Lopez was arrested on July 23 and charged with murder and currently, is being held on $2 million bond. Court records do not indicate an attorney authorized to speak on her behalf, and she has not yet entered a plea.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.