Baby Hope's accused killer claims police coerced his confession and that he never hurt the girl... but his story hinges on him owning a cell phone in 1991
- Baby Hope, whose name has been revealed as Anjelica Castillo, was found stuffed in a cooler on the side of a New York highway in 1991
- Conrado Juarez, 52, was been arrested for the crime
- He admits to disposing of her body, but says he didn't killer her
- Claims his sister, who was caring for the girl, called him on his cell phone in 1991 to say Anjelica had fallen down stairs and died
- Police sources say Juarez gave up details about the girl's death that only her killer would know
The man charged with brutally murdering Baby Hope is calming his confession was forced out of him under duress by NYPD detectives.
Conrado Juarez admitted Thursday he stuffed little Anjelica Castillo's body in an Igloo cooler and dumped it on the side of a highway - but he says he never harmed the 4-year-old and instead helped to care for her when she was alive.
However, Juarez's own story of his innocence depends on him owning a cell phone in 1991 - a time when less than 3percent of Americans had one.
Not guilty? Conrado Juarez says NYPD detectives forced a confession out of him and that he never killed little Anjelica Castillo
RIP: The tombstone of Anjelica 'Baby Hope' Castillo in the Bronx finally has her real name on it. The grave was visited by dozens of well-wishers on Sunday
Juarez, a dishwasher and illegal immigrant, spoke to the New York Times from Riker's Island, where he is being held held on charges that he raped, tortured and murdered little Anjelica before conspiring with his sister to dispose of her body.
'I told the police that I put a pillow over her face and killed her, but it wasn’t like that,' he said.
He said he only confessed after detectives aggressively interrogated him for several hours.
'They insisted and insisted. They would say, "You killed her!" So after a while and after so much pressure, I accepted it and said what they wanted,' Juarez told the Times.
The NYPD triumphantly announced a break in the heart-wrenching 22-year-old cold case last weekend, saying they had not only solved the haunting mystery of Baby Hope's identity, but had gotten a confession from the man they believe killed her.
Sources told the Times that Juarez's confession is genuine and that he provided detectives with information about Anjelica's death that only her killer would know.
Vindicated: Anjelica Castillo, seen right in an age-progression sketch and left in a sketch released in 1991. The third photo is of the cooler which the child was found inside
Anjelica was being cared for by Juarez's sister, Balvina Juárez Ramírez, in 1991 when she died. Anjelica's father had brought the little girl and her sister to Balvina's home in Queens to live because he believed that the girls' biological mother could not take care of them.
Conrado Juarez, 53, was Anjelica's cousin - the nephew of the girl's father.
Margarita Castillo, Anjelica's mother, has nine other children and said she never saw her little Anjelica again after her father took her away.
Juarez says that his sister called him on his cell phone one night in 1991 - he insisted to the Times that she called his cell phone - to say that Anjelica had fallen down the stairs and was dead.
He admitted that he helped her bind the child's body then he and Balvina drove to the Henry Hudson Parkway, where they dumped her body.
'I was afraid. My mind closed. Thinking about it now, I realize I should have called the police,' he told the Times.
Juarez says Anjelica's mother never called to check or he daughters or visited them.
Four years later when Juarez returned only one daughter to Margarita Castillo, he told her that Anjelica was dead.
'I told her, "She is no longer with us," and that was that. She did not ask a lot of questions,' Juarez told the Times.
Heartbroken: Margarita Castillo, the mother of Baby Hope, says her daughter's killer tried to shake her down for money to pay for the child's care
In a lengthy interview in Spanish from the kitchen of her apartment in Queens, New York, Ms Castillo described to the New York Daily News her conversation with Juarez, Angelica's much-older cousin on her father's side: 'He said, "You need to pay for the time we supported them."'
'And I said, "I want to see my girls first."'
Juarez then claimed that he went back to Mexico and when he returned, Anjelica was gone. It was then that Ms Castillo said her daughter was dead.
'I said, "Where is she buried?" And I kept calling him and he wouldn’t answer. He said just that she was dead, and he didn’t know where she was.'
NYPD detectives arrested Juarez, 52, this past weekend after a break in the notorious cold case.
confessed to tying the girl to a table then sexually assaulting her and
smothering her with a pillow when she wouldn't stop screaming.
In custody: Juarez, 52, was arraigned on Saturday at Manhattan Criminal Court for the alleged murder of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed 'Baby Hope', in New York
The attack occurred at his sister's house in Queens. When his sister, who died years later, found out, she demanded that Juarez dispose of the body.
He confessed to stuffing her in a blue cooler and dumping her along the Henry Hudson Parkway. She was found by construction workers on July 23, 1991.
Detectives gave her the name Baby Hope and paid for her headstone because no family members ever came forward to claim her remains.
Ms Castillo, a mother of ten who has children by three different men, says she never went to the police to report her daughter missing because she is an illegal immigrant and doesn't understand the American legal system.
'I didn’t speak English. You feel dumb going to the police station and asking for a translator. I was intimidated. It’s hard to explain. I felt ignorant about the process,' she said.
She says she was also scared of Anjelica's father, who took Anjleica from her in the first place, left her with Jaurez's sister, then returned to Mexico.
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