‘Baby Skylar’ Case: Wash. Woman Accused in 2005 Death of Newborn Found in Phoenix Airport Restroom

Investigators say new genetic genealogy technology helped crack the cold case

<p>Robert Alexander/Getty</p> Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Robert Alexander/Getty

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

• Annie Anderson, 51, has allegedly been identified as the child's mother

• Genetic genealogy and other new technologies led to the arrest

• "Baby Skylar" was allegedly first discovered by a janitor

Investigators in Phoenix made a long-awaited break in a 2005 cold case surrounding a dead baby who was left in an airport bathroom.

Phoenix police alleged Monday that a woman being held in Washington named Annie Anderson had admitted to the crime. Anderson, 51, faces a first-degree murder charge and will soon be extradited to Maricopa County in Arizona, according to reports by local ABC 15, CBS 5 and NBC News 12.

Authorities have been searching for the mother since 2005 when the baby was found dead in a restroom trash can at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The baby girl, who was found wrapped in a hotel bag, became known as “Baby Skylar” as investigators searched for her mother.

The baby was first discovered by a janitor, according to the East Valley Tribune at the time.

Investigators said at the time there was a “huge” amount of suspects to sift through, given that the airport averaged a reported 100,000 people per day, according to the Tribune. Investigators estimated that the baby, who still had her umbilical cord attached at the time she was found, had been in the restroom for up to 11 hours because that was the last time the bathroom had been cleaned before she was discovered.

“She just literally was welcomed into the world only to be murdered,” Troy Hillman, a retired homicide detective with the Phoenix Police Department said, according to CBS 5. “It was just horrific.”

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Investigators had turned to several new technologies while attempting to track down the mother over the last two decades.

In 2017, investigators began using a tool called “Snapshot,” which used DNA found on the baby to make a sketch of the child’s mother, according to Fox 10. Then in 2021, investigators began using genetic genealogy, which ultimately led to a break in the case, Phoenix police said Monday, according to NBC.

Anderson was taken into custody on a warrant for her arrest, according to the outlet. CBS reports that police confirmed Anderson was the mother after interviewing the 51-year-old woman in Washington.

“This didn’t have to be this way,” Hillman, the homicide detective said, according to the outlet, “and somebody needed to explain why they did what they did.”

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