A 52-year-old woman living in the Central Valley was arrested in recent weeks in connection with a 32-year-old cold-case homicide of an infant boy, known only as Baby John Doe.
The infant was found inside a bag on an embankment in Castro Valley on May 15, 1988. Lesa Lopez, a resident of Salida, near Modesto, was arrested and brought to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on July 23, and as KRON4 reports, she's been charged with a single count of murder. She is believed to have been the mother of the boy, and at the age of 20, she's suspected of taking his life and disposing of the body.
Lopez has reportedly confessed something to investigators, explaining some of the circumstances of the killing and saying that she had hidden the pregnancy from friends and family.
As KPIX reports, the case went completely cold after media calls for tips failed to lead investigators anywhere 32 years ago. DNA from the scene finally turned up a female DNA profile in 2005, which then languished in the federal law enforcement database for 14 years before the recent use of family genealogy databases revived interest in the case last year. Alameda County investigators were able to use the DNA profile to hone in on Lopez, and with the help of surreptitiously collected trash at her Salida residence, they were able to positively link Lopez back to the crime scene.
The method of tracking killers using family DNA and genealogy websites was popularized in the hunt for the Golden State Killer — the story of which just aired in a mini-series on HBO based on the book of the same name, I'll Be Gone In the Dark. Sacramento-area resident Joseph DeAngelo, now 74, was arrested in 2018 after family DNA led investigators to him, and he was sentenced to life in prison in late June.
The arrest of Lopez and her apparent confession bring a possible end to a decades-long mystery that began when two boys in Castro Valley happened upon the child's remains along Madison Avenue near Seaview Avenue. An autopsy would later reveal that the baby had been alive at birth and was subsequently killed.
Anyone with any further information on the case is asked to call Alameda County Detective Pat Smyth at 510-667-7538.