For more than three decades, Mississippi authorities have eluded answers about the grisly death of a little girl known simply as Baby Doe. The infant’s body was discovered on April 17, 1992 in a garbage bag in the township of Picayune, southwest Mississippi.
Authorities determined that someone had choked Baby Doe and considered her untimely death a homicide. Picayune police began investigating, gathering evidence — some linking the child to neighboring Louisiana, reportedly including local newspapers — but the case went cold.
However, last week it became clear that Baby Doe was never forgotten. Louisiana police said they had apprehended Doe’s alleged killers – her parents – by conducting genetic and genealogical analysis of evidence gathered after the baby’s body was found.
Officials said the Picayune Police Department, with help from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, has reopened Baby Doe’s case. Using “advanced technology, DNA profiles and fingerprints were developed from the evidence obtained,” they said.
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After following up on those leads, they claimed to have identified baby Doe’s parents as Andrew and Inga Johansen Carriere, both aged 50. They arrested the now-divorced couple on March 9 and February 28, respectively.
“This breakthrough in the case is a testament to advances in forensic technology and law enforcement’s commitment to getting justice for victims and their families,” the Louisiana State Police said in a Facebook post March 9.
While advances in forensic science led police to the suspected killers of Baby Doe, traditional detective work spurred the investigation. In 2021, while investigating a cold case, Picayune Police Detective Rhonda Johnson came across an evidence box labeled “Baby Doe” in New Orleans, just outside of where the Carrieres live, according to news website nola.com.
Johnson inquired about the box, and an evidence officer reminded the detective that an infant had been discovered in a trash can on April 15, 1992, the newspaper said.
“I said, ‘I have to do that next,’” Johnson recalled to the newspaper. The detective hunted for Baby Doe’s grave.
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Johnson found the girl buried in a church in Picayune. Her tombstone bore the inscription: “Angel of Heaven”.
Police did not need to exhume Baby Doe’s body because the evidence of her death was well preserved. Christa Groom of the Johnson and Mississippi Bureau of Investigations sent genetic evidence to Othram Labs in Woodville, Texas.
The lab focuses on using crime scene DNA to identify victims and their attackers. In the case of Baby Doe, Othram created a DNA profile for the child.
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Genetic genealogists, in turn, used this profile to place Baby Doe into a family tree and discover potential relatives, Othram’s chief development officer Kristen Mittelman told nola.com.
Othram analysts have reportedly discovered Baby Doe’s grandparents in Louisiana. Police, in turn, located baby Doe’s alleged mother and father.
Inga Carriere was arrested in Avondale, which is across the Mississippi River from New Orleans and about 60 miles from Picayune. Andrew Carriere was arrested in River Ridge, a community just outside — and on the same side of the river — as New Orleans.
Both were being held at a local jail in Gretna, a suburb of New Orleans, awaiting extradition to Mississippi.
Inga Carriere’s attorney, Paul Fleming, claimed she was innocent of the murder. “She believed at the time that the child was stillborn,” Fleming said. Andrew Carriere’s lawyers were not immediately available.
Investigators’ use of genetic genealogy to identify Baby Doe’s putative parents comes amid an apparent increase in law enforcement using the technique to solve crimes. In one of the most famous examples, police in Sacramento, California tracked down Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. using genetic profiles available on genealogy websites.
The use of genetic genealogy in law enforcement has generated controversy. Critics have questioned whether authorities should be able to use personal data – such as genetic information obtained from third parties – in their investigations due to privacy concerns.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Othram was able to link baby Doe’s DNA to her alleged grandparents, including whether that information came from a third party. Othram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.