Baby April suspect pleads guilty to lesser charge on Monday

Local News

A former Orion, Ill., woman accused of first-degree murder in the 1992 death of an infant has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Monday in Rock Island County Court.

Angele Renee Siebke of Whitehall, Ohio, formerly of Orion, has pleaded guilty to endangering the life of a child resulting in death, a Class 3 felony, court records say.

A presentence investigation has been ordered, with a sentencing hearing set for Jan. 31 in Rock Island County Court. Siebke has appeal rights, court records say.

In December of 2020, Siebke was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of “Baby Jane April Doe” on April 11, 1992.

Earlier, Siebke pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. She remains in Rock Island County Jail.

BABY APRIL: A DEATH INVESTIGATION BEGINS IN 1992:

FROM POLICE AND COURT RECORDS

On April 11, 1992, the Moline Police Department was called to 17th Street Park (now Stoney Creek/YMCA Boathouse) in Moline in reference to a citizen who found a deceased infant in a bag along the shoreline. A man walking his dog near 17th Street and River Drive in Moline, spotted a trash bag floating along the banks of the Mississippi River, a news release from Moline Police says.

The man was able to pull the bag ashore and opened it to discover a dead female infant. The investigation revealed a full term, healthy baby girl who was named “Baby April” and later buried in Riverside Cemetery while the investigation continued.

An autopsy conducted by the Rock Island County Coroner identified the cause of death as suffocation asphyxiation and hypothermia.

THE INVESTIGATION

No leads were developed at that time and no arrests were made in 1992. At the time, Moline Police conducted DNA blood typing, the first case of its kind in Illinois in 1992.

The Moline Police Department worked the case for many years, initially by Detective George Miklas, now retired, and Detective Mike Griffin. Through advancements in DNA technology, Moline Police obtained a DNA profile of the mother and pursued criminal charges against the unknown-named mother.

2014

On Dec. 15, 2014, then Rock Island County States Attorney John McGehee announced a first-degree murder charge against “female contributor to human DNA profile P92-001627 Exhibit3B2.”

A warrant was issued for the arrest of a female possessing that DNA profile and was entered into a statewide database. If someone with that DNA profile was identified, the charge would be amended with the legal name of the individual.

2019

In November 2019, Moline Police Chief Darren Gault submitted a budget request to the City Council for expanded funding for cold case investigations. Spearheaded by Ald. Kevin Schoonmaker, a motion was then made by Ald. Sonia Berg and Ald. Mike Wendt, and the council unanimously authorized funding for the 2020 fiscal year.

2020

In January 2020, Gault authorized the Criminal Investigation Division to submit a genetic DNA profile to Parabon Nanolabs in Reston, Virginia to conduct DNA analysis on this case. Parabon Nanolabs provides a variety of DNA services to include Snapshot DNA Analysis to advance investigations when traditional DNA methods fail to produce a match.

In April 2020, Parabon returned a Snapshot DNA report giving investigators new leads in the case. In June 2020, Moline Police continued pursuing DNA analysis with Parabon and obtained a Genetic Geneology Report with further leads in the case.

Genetic genealogy (GG) is a lead generation tool that can be used to identify human remains by tying DNA to a family or point to the likely identity of an individual whose DNA was found at a crime scene. Genealogists accomplish this through the use of comparative DNA analysis, which measures the amount of DNA that is shared between two people, combined with traditional genealogy research using historical records to infer relationships between individuals.

Parabon uses only publicly available GG databases, such as GEDmatch, with policies that users must agree to that allow law enforcement usage.

At no time were the private commercial DNA service databases, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA, used.

In November 2020, Parabon Nanolabs provided an additional Genetic Geneology research report which provided genetic matches and genealogy research used to construct a set of ancestors and narrow down a final list of leads. Moline Police then used traditional police work to continue the investigation, whereupon a Siebke was identified as a suspect.

The investigators

The Moline Police Department was assisted in the investigation by the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services, Illinois State Police Morton Crime Lab, the Rock Island State’s Attorney’s Office, Parabon Nanolabs and the Columbus Ohio Police Department Cold Case Unit and the Whitehall Ohio Police Department.

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