Following the arrest of Conrado Juarez, who confessed this past weekend to killing his 4-year-old cousin, "Baby Hope," in 1991, the mother and sister of the brutally murdered little girl have spoken out for the first time.
“You can’t even describe a punishment," mother Margarita Castillo told reporters in Spanish through a closed door at her home in Queens. "You won’t understand the pain. We are just waiting for justice. We are not going to have peace.”
She said she did not know her daughter had been sexually abused and murdered. She also explained why she didn't notify police that her daughter was missing.
"Because she wasn't missing -- her father took them away and maybe that was my mistake, let him take them away," she told Telemundo Nueva York Tuesday. "I did not go to the police because I was afraid of not being heard. I was afraid, not knowing the language."
In 1991, the body of Castillo's daughter, only identified this month as Anjelica Castillo, was discovered in a cooler alongside the Hudson River Parkway. The body was naked and malnourished.
This past summer, the NYPD launched a renewed effort to solve the murder, distributing flyers with sketches of what the girl may have looked like in current day.
Police received a huge break in the case when a tipster recently informed officials she might know the girl's mother. Investigators were then able to match Angelica's DNA to Margarita's.
“When my mom saw the drawing, she said Anjelica would’ve looked just like me if she were alive,” sister Laurencita Ramirez told The New York Post. “She said I look like her.”
Ramirez, 27, said she first learned that she had a sister who was murdered when she was 11 years old. She hadn't heard of the "Baby Hope' case, however, until just last week.
Detectives investigating the murder in 1991 named the little girl "Baby Hope," signifying their quest to bring her killer to justice. The case captured the attention of the city. When the detectives, from the 34th Precinct, held a funeral Mass for the then-unidentified girl, over 500 people attended. "Baby Hope" also received a proper burial. At the bottom of her tombstone, detectives inscribed the words, "Because we care."
Juarez, 52, reportedly told police he accidentally smothered the young girl to keep her quiet after raping her. He has since plead not guilty to felony murder charges.