A Seattle woman was arrested Thursday on suspicion of homicide for the 1997 death of her newborn son, The Spokesman-Review reports.
An autopsy determined that “Baby Boy Doe” was born alive two days before he was found dead by a gas station worker in a trash can at a 24-hour convenience store on Nov. 20, 1997. The discovery was made when the employee saw the body through the clear plastic trash can liner.
King County prosecutors identified Christine Marie Warren, 50, as the mother of Baby Boy Doe through genetic genealogy. The DNA gathered from the scene was sent to a lab in Oklahoma City after the profile was entered into a public genealogy site called GEDmatch. While a woman believed to be the baby’s mother was spotted in surveillance footage at the gas station, the initial investigation was unable to confirm her identity.
In 2018, the case of Baby Boy Doe was re-investigated with the help of genealogist Barbara Rae-Venter, who most notably helped in finding the Golden State Killer. Investigators were able to configure the mother’s DNA after a placental blood clot was found, but their findings didn’t match anything in the FBI-operated database Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
Rae-Venter researched the ancestral line and generated a list of possible names. A potential match was found in March 2019, but it was later determined that the individual was possibly a first cousin of the actual mother. Another list was put together by Rae-Venter, but it wasn’t until March 2020 that Warren’s name was included because she voluntarily submitted her DNA into an open genealogy databank, but didn’t choose to make her information private.
Warren made her first court appearance on Friday. She’s being held on $10,000 bail. Prosecutors expect to reach a decision on her charges Tuesday. Warren cannot be charged with manslaughter since it has already passed the statute of limitations, however, there is no statute for felony murder.