Lake Mary woman faces charges in 1986 baby killing cold case, police say

Janita Philips turned herself in

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Police in Connecticut have charged a Lake Mary woman with murder in connection with the 1986 killing of a baby.

Janita Philips, 62, of Lake Mary, Florida, turned herself in to Greenwich police. She has a court hearing Friday. Police said Philips was the mother of the child.

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“We take every life in our community very seriously and obviously to lose one at such a young age, without any attribution and responsibility, has tugged at our heartstrings over the years,” said Greenwich Police Deputy Chief Robert Berry.

The infant boy was found dead in a garbage truck in Greenwich on May 16, 1986. The truck had just emptied a dumpster at an apartment complex.

The chief medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide, saying the baby had been strangled. The boy was born alive and killed soon after birth, officials said.

In 2019, police announced they would use new DNA techniques to solve the cold case, and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

“One of the challenges is that so much has changed, Berry said. “I know that a couple questions about DNA, DNA was just coming out as a very early science in 1986. And it has changed, it continues to change almost, you know, almost every year, there’s a new way for us to apply that particular science to the operation of criminals and to find lost persons and those types of things.”

In 2020, police said they used forensic testing to link Philips to the scene. Additional DNA testing confirmed Philips as the baby’s mother. Police said they were able to track her down to Lake Mary.

In September, Greenwich detectives interviewed Philips with help from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

Police say Philips admitted that she was the child’s mother and caused his death. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for her Wednesday, and she turned herself in Friday.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.