Ohio woman charged 28 years after death of ‘Baby Girl April’ in Illinois

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MOLINE, Ill. (WHBF) – Police have charged an Ohio woman 28 years after a baby girl was found dead in Moline, Illinois.

Angela Renee Siebke, 47, of Whitehall, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of “Baby Jane April Doe” on April 11, 1992.

Angela Renee Siebke (Moline Police photo)

A plastic bag containing the body of a baby girl was found floating in the Mississippi River that day.

An autopsy revealed “Baby Girl April” died of suffocation and hypothermia.

Former Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee announced in 2014 that a first-degree murder charge had been filed after investigators identified a woman whose DNA profile was found along the banks of the river near 17th Street.

Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office and Moline Police announced the charges and arrest Thursday.

Siebke was arrested in Rock Island and is being held in the Rock Island County jail on a $1,000,000 bond.

In 1992, Siebke would have been a resident of Orion, Illinois. Court records show she lived in East Moline, Rock Island, and Orion at various. They also reflect she had traffic tickets in Rock Island and Scott counties in the 1990s.

Moline Police Chief Darren Gault held a news conference at 3 p.m. Thursday, in which he went over the details of the news release that you can read in its entirety below:

MOLINE POLICE 1992 BABY APRIL HOMICIDE

Angela Siebke, 47 of Whitehall, Ohio, has been arrested and charged with First Degree Murder in the 1992 Baby April infant homicide.

On April 11th, 1992, the Moline Police Department was called to 17th Street Park (now Stoney Creek/YMCA Boathouse) in Moline in reference to a citizen who found a deceased infant in a bag along the shoreline. A man walking his dog near 17th Street and River Drive in Moline, spotted a trash bag floating along the banks of the Mississippi River. The man was able to pull the bag ashore and opened it to discover a dead female infant. The investigation revealed a full term, healthy baby girl who was named “Baby April” and later buried in Riverside Cemetery while the investigation continued. An autopsy conducted by the Rock Island County Coroner identified the cause of death as suffocation asphyxiation and hypothermia. No leads were developed at that time and no arrests were made in 1992. At the time, Moline Police conducted DNA blood typing, the first case of its kind in Illinois in 1992.

This case, and several infant deaths in the Quad Cities from the 1990s have seen extensive media coverage over the years. The Dispatch-Argus reported that from the beginning, the case resonated in a community which at that time had suffered far too many cases of child abuse. Reported by The Dispatch, “then-Moline Police Chief Steve Etheridge could have been speaking for us all when he declared, “The children of our community are not waste and should not be dumped anywhere.”

This case has been diligently worked by the Moline Police Department for many years, initially by Det. George Miklas (Ret) and Det. Mike Griffin. Through advancements in DNA technology, Moline Police obtained a DNA profile of the mother and pursued criminal charges against the unknown named mother. On December 15, 2014, then Rock Island County States Attorney John McGehee announced a First Degree Murder charge against “female contributor to human DNA profile P92-001627 Exhibit3B2.”(2014CF0990)

A warrant was issued for the arrest of a female possessing that DNA profile and was entered into a statewide database. If someone with that DNA profile was identified, the charge would be amended with the legal name of the individual. In November 2019, Moline Police Chief Darren Gault submitted a budget request to the City Council for expanded funding for cold case investigations. Spearheaded by Ald. Kevin Schoonmaker, a motion was then made by Ald. Sonia Berg and Ald. Mike Wendt and the council unanimously authorized funding for the 2020 fiscal year. In January 2020, Chief Gault authorized the Criminal Investigation Division to submit a genetic DNA profile to Parabon Nanolabs in Reston, Virginia to conduct DNA analysis on this case. Parabon Nanolabs provides a variety of DNA services to include Snapshot DNA Analysis to advance investigations when traditional DNA methods fail to produce a match. In April 2020, Parabon returned a Snapshot DNA report giving investigators new leads in the case. In June 2020, Moline Police continued pursuing DNA analysis with Parabon and obtained a Genetic Geneology Report with further leads in the case.

Genetic genealogy (GG) is a lead generation tool that can be used to identify human remains by tying DNA to a family or point to the likely identity of an individual whose DNA was found at a crime scene. Genealogists accomplish this through the use of comparative DNA analysis, which measures the amount of DNA that is shared between two people, combined with traditional genealogy research using historical records to infer relationships between individuals. Parabon only uses
publicly available GG databases, such as GEDmatch, with policies that users must agree to that allow law enforcement usage. Given these policies and the amount of press surrounding the Golden State Killer case and its use of genetic genealogy, Parabon believes that participants are now aware that these databases could be used for law enforcement purposes. It is important to note that such databases do not disclose or expose any raw genetic data; only the amount and chromosomal location of shared DNA segments can be seen.

At NO TIME were the private commercial DNA service databases, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA, used. This is important to understand so there is not a misconception that citizens’ private DNA is being analyzed by the government. In November 2020, Parabon Nanolabs provided an additional Genetic Geneology research report which provided genetic matches and genealogy research used to construct a set of ancestors and narrow down a final list of leads. Moline Police then used traditional police work to continue the investigation whereupon a suspect was identified. On December 1st, 2020.

Moline Police Detectives with the Special Investigations Group located the suspect, Angela Renee Siebke, a 47-year-old resident of Whitehall, Ohio at her residence in Ohio. In 1992, Siebke would have been a resident of Orion, Illinois. A search warrant for her DNA was served on her by Moline Police Detectives who traveled to Ohio. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Siebke on December 17, 2020. Siebke has been charged with First Degree Murder as the female contributor to the human DNA profile to Exhibit3B2. Siebke was arrested in Rock Island and is being held in the Rock Island County jail on a $1,000,000 bond.

Chief Gault said “It is my honor to lead a team of dedicated law enforcement professionals who have a relentless drive in the pursuit of justice. In 2018, Det. Mike Griffin was interviewed by KWQC on this investigation and stated ‘it is my job to find justice for these infants.”

Police investigators are often the voice for the victims in homicides and today have spoken for Baby April. In this relentless pursuit of justice, we have provided closure to this 28-year-old mystery. The Moline Police Department will continue to leverage new technology and opportunities to bring justice to victims and families seeking answers to these tragic events.”

The Moline Police Department was assisted in this investigation by the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services, Illinois State Police Morton Crime Lab, the Rock Island State’s Attorney’s Office, Parabon Nanolabs and the Columbus Ohio Police Department Cold Case Unit and the Whitehall Ohio Police Department.

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