A custodian found the baby girl's body inside a garbage can at Salem's Gilmore Field on May 1, 1990.
Salem police continued to investigate for a decade and more without a break, refusing to give up. Despite their best efforts, it looked like the case of Baby Jane Doe would never be solved.
Then in April 2008, a 34-year-old woman was convicted of identity theft and forgery.
As part of her sentencing, Stacey O. Quintero
was ordered to give a blood sample,
said Deputy District Attorney Jodie Bureta.
Investigators ran the DNA from the sample through various databases and got a hit
: DNA from blood taken from the placenta found with Baby Jane Doe in 1990 matched Quintero's DNA.
Friday in Marion County Court, Quintero told Judge Claudia M. Burton that in 1989 she was 16 and learned she was pregnant.
A "heavy-set" girl who was already known for wearing baggy clothes, she was able to conceal the child growing inside her from everyone in her world, including close friends and family, Bureta said.
She gave birth in her parent's bathtub, washed away the blood and took her newborn baby down to the park. The small corpse was found with its umbilical cord still attached.
Quintero didn't tell the court how or when the infant died. "She implied that something went wrong during the pregnancy," Bureta said. An autopsy in 1990 concluded the baby died of asphyxiation.
Detectives checked her claims that she gave birth and disposed of the body alone. All those interviewed said the same thing: "Nobody knew," Bureta said.
Quintero pleaded guilty to one count each of criminally negligent homicide and concealing the birth of an infant.
Murder has no statute of limitations, but Bureta acknowledged the difficulty prosecutors would have faced bringing about a conviction in the 20-year-old case. According to Bureta, Quintero waived her statute-of-limitation rights on the lesser charges to help bring the case to a close
Sentencing is set for Aug. 9. Quintero, now 36, faces up to one year
in jail for concealing the birth and anywhere from 20 months to probation
for criminally negligent homicide. Those sentences could be served at the same time.