[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
The mother of a newborn child was arrested and charged with murder nearly 40 years after the baby was found dead in a gravel pit by a Siberian Husky.
According to a statement from the Maine State Police, 58-year-old Lee Ann Daigle – formally Lee Ann Guerrette – of Lowell, Massachusetts, was arrested at her home by authorities, waived extradition, and was brought back to Maine on Monday. She was charged with one count of murder and is being held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.
Police say the infant, known as “Baby Jane Doe,” was born at a gravel pit in Frenchville, Maine, and then abandoned by the mom in sub-zero temperatures. The body of the little one was then discovered on December 7, 1985, after a dog found the child and carried her less than 700 feet to its owners’ home. While investigators were able to retrace the path of the dog to find the location of the gravel pit where the baby girl was born and left to freeze to death, the case ended up going nowhere at the time.
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But “over the past two years,” the press release noted that two detectives still “chased every lead and spent countless hours working and following new leads that helped identify Baby Jane Doe’s mother.” They were eventually able to confirm that Daigle was the baby’s mom, all thanks to “advancements in technology to include DNA and genetic genealogy.” The Maine State Police added:
“This case was the culmination of decades worth of investigative work from dozens of now retired and current detectives who never gave up finding answers and justice for Baby Jane Doe.”
The cold case previously made headlines in 2014 when retired Maine State Police Maj. Charles Love recalled to the Bangor Daily News about what happened when police found the baby. He said at the time:
“It was so cold, just very, very cold. I was walking the scene, trying to gather information. It was so quiet in that gravel pit, and it appeared that a vehicle had driven in, as the tracks were very clear in the snow. Right near them were plainly a set of dog tracks. I turned and followed those paw prints right back to the house, where it had dropped the baby right by the door.”
Armand and Lorraine Pelletier, who are the owners of the dog, also spoke out about the horrific discovery, revealing that their dog Paca was left out in the morning but soon returned home and tried to get their attention at the door:
“This is something you don’t forget. … She kept pounding, and after awhile, I went to go look, and I could not believe what I saw. I saw what looked like a little rag doll, but then we saw it was a frozen little baby.”
At the time, Lorraine shared that the infant was “a cute little girl with reddish blond hair” and that investigators told her “she could not have lived more than 30 minutes.” So awful…
In a new interview with the Bangor Daily News, Lorraine reacted to the update in the cold case, saying:
“Never, ever, ever did I dream even with DNA that they would find the mother. It puts me in a situation where I am angry at [Daigle], but then again, you can’t hold on to that anger,” she added. “She was scared, and it just breaks my heart she never rang our doorbell and never asked for help.”
It is important to note that Maine did not have any “safe have law,” which allows someone to surrender a baby to an appropriate agency without penalty, until 2002.
Now, Daigle reportedly faces 25 years to life in prison as well as a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted. According to the Bangor Daily News, she entered a plea of not guilty in her first virtual court appearance on Tuesday. The woman will head back to court on August 8 in Fort Kent District Court.
[Image via Maine State Police]