A Minnesota Mystery: Three babies found in watery graves

Three infants over two decades have been found drowned, and a DNA test adds a twist to the case.

Minnesota’s Baby Does

Over the course of 18 years criminal investigators in Minnesota endured having to investigate three separate unknown, unclaimed babies that had been intentionally drowned and left to be found in the ample waterways of the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. The first occurred in 1999 when the some fisherman were braving the frigid December air when they noticed an object floating near Bay Point Park. The floating mass turned out to be a newborn wrapped in a towel. The little girl still had her umbilical cord clinging to her body.

Four years later a newborn baby boy washed ashore on the edge of Lake Pepin where a group of teenagers had the misfortune of discovering it. A few months later the authorities were shocked when DNA tests revealed the two babies were in fact related, most likely having the same mother but different fathers. The cause of death for both infants was not clear, but it is believed they entered the water healthy and the police treated the cases as murders.

The police suspect the mother was a relatively young woman, probably local to the area, and that she may have hidden the pregnancies to make disposing of the babies easier.

When the news of the second infant made the rounds, a local couple showed great altruism by offering to pay to place the babies next to their own stillborn daughter’s grave. The authorities agreed to their request and the infants now rest under a tombstone that reads “God’s Little Angels”.

Despite following over 50 leads, along with DNA testing dozens of women, the mother of the babies remains a mystery.

In 2007 another newborn was found floating in the marina at the Treasure Island Casino by two men making their rounds at work. The baby was either Native American or Hispanic and was not related to the other Baby Does from years earlier.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of these cases is that Minnesota has a “safe haven” law, which allows a mother to leave a newborn at any hospital to be taken in and cared for with no questions asked. The option is even available to call 911 and arrange to have the unwanted child picked up.

Full credit to the wonderful youtube channel “The Unidentified” for bringing this case to my attention. They provide summaries of John and Jane Doe cases in a understated, non-sensationalized manner.

Donna Baldeo 

Donna Baldeo was a manager of a drive-through Wells Fargo bank on the outskirts of Houston. When she arrived to work one day in December of 2001 she found a note on the bank’s door. The letter demanded the bank empty its vault and drop the money off in a discreet location. The missive warned that if the police were alerted, then a violent retaliatory attack would go down.

Baldeo waited in her car for several minutes until another employee arrived. After explaining the situation, the duressed pair headed for a nearby business to discuss what they should do. Ultimately, the decision was made to contact their supervisor, who had the duo call the authorities.

Detectives were unable to obtain any clues, not even fingerprints, from the note and the case went cold with no persons of interest being found. Since Baldeo just happened to be the person who found the note, and not mentioned specifically,  it was thought that she would probably be safe from any promised retaliation.

That presumption would be challenged five weeks later as Donna’s downstairs neighbor, Curtis Ford, was awoken at 3:30 A.M. by what sounded like people running up and then back down the stairs outside their apartment complex. This prompted Ford to look outside, where he was stunned to see fire reaching high into the sky outside of his balcony window.

Ford moved to alert Baldeo and her family, eliciting an abrupt escape attempt. Donna lived with her 22-year-old son, Jailall, who evacuated successfully, however her 8-year-old daughter Bunny remained lost in the fiery mayhem. Donna and Jailall ran back into the flames in and effort to rescue the child. Jailall was overcome by the smoke and had to be pulled from the fire by Ford, who saw Jailall lying on the floor. Donna was then located and pulled from the carnage as well. EMTs and firefighters arrived at the scene to find Donna and her son badly burned over much of their bodies. They would both die from their injuries within a half an hour of one another later that morning. The fire investigators would find the lifeless body of Donna’s daughter on a stairwell. Ford escaped without injury.

The fire was ruled to be arson, with the author of the threatening note on the bank considered a prime suspect.

Over the course of the next several years fifteen additional fires were set in the area around Baldeo’s apartment complex. Eventually, the authorities arrested two teenage boys after one of their grandmothers reported her suspicions to the police. Her grandson was troubled and had a bit of a pyromaniac streak in him. Under the pressure of interrogation, the boys eventually confessed to getting drunk and starting the fires to “scare somebody”. The older boy was tried as an adult and sentenced to a dozen years of prison. His younger accomplice was placed in a juvenile detention center until the age of eighteen. Both have since been released. The authorities do not feel the fire was related to the ransom note in any manner.

I’ve covered dozens, if not hundreds, of other cases, which can be found here. Thank you for reading!

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.