Nearly three decades after the body of a newborn girl was found wrapped in newspaper and left in a field, police in South Carolina have charged a 53-year-old woman they say is the infant's mother. Brook Graham is charged with homicide by child abuse, the Greenville News reports. A man picking wildflowers to give his wife on Valentine's Day found the infant's body in 1990, placed inside a cardboard box for a vacuum, and left in a field. An autopsy found the baby was breathing on her own, outside the womb, before she died. The Greenville police chief on Thursday called it "terrible murder of a defenseless infant," per WYFF. Investigators at the time gave the infant the name Julie Valentine, and that name came to represent child abuse prevention in Greenville. A center that helps survivors is named for her, and a plaque and statue in city parks honor her.
As with recent other cold cases, DNA testing led police to an arrest. Investigators have said the placenta, plus sheets, towels, and other items that appeared to have been used during a home delivery, were found in the box with the body. DNA and genealogy tracing led them to the child's father, per the News, who took them to Graham. The father has not been charged. The two came to the attention of police at the time of the killing, when detectives traced the order history for vacuum cleaners at Sears. But genealogy gave police the link they needed. On Thursday, the executive director of the Julie Valentine Center said the nonprofit keeps the infant's legacy alive, though reflecting on the killing still brings pain. "We all ask, 'Why?' as if an answer would make us feel any better," she said. (DNA company's pitch raises privacy concerns.)