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Meriden Police Identify The Mother Of A Newborn Found Dead 32 Years Ago

Lori Mack
Connecticut Public Radio
Meriden Police Chief Jeffry Cossette talks to the media Jan. 14, 2020.

Police announced Tuesday that they have found the mother of a baby who was left in a parking lot in 1988.

Police Chief Jeffry Cossette identified the mother as Karen Kuzmak Roche. Detectives described her as remorseful when they found her at home on Jan. 2, 2020. 

“Miss Roche indicated that she had been waiting 32 years for the day in which the police would be knocking on her door regarding this incident,” Cossette said. “A positive DNA test was completed by the state forensic lab last week.”

Cossette said Kuzmak Roche is not expected to face criminal charges. The charge would have been manslaughter, but the statute of limitations expired after 20 years.

Kuzmak Roche told police she delivered the baby herself. She was 25 years old at the time and was not in a good state of mind. Police said Kuzmak Roche called the volunteer fire department on Dec. 28, 1987, telling them to look for something, but she did not mention a baby. Firefighters searched but did not find anything. It’s believed the child was outside for five days in the freezing cold before he was found at the base of a tree in a parking lot on Jan. 2.

Police said they were able to identify Kuzmak Roche through extensive DNA profiling. Colleen Fitzpatrick, founder of California-based Identifinders International, agreed to take on the case in 2012.

Through genealogical data, they were able to come up with family tree-based profiles. Fitzpatrick called it a landmark case.

“This is one of two original cold cases that used this new approach to forensic identification,” Fitzpatrick said. “This was a year before the Golden State Killer.”

Police did not release the name of the father. 

Cossette said the mother mentioned the Safe Haven law and said she would have taken advantage of it if it had existed back then. The law, adopted in 2000, allows a parent to bring an infant 30 days or younger to the emergency room and avoid prosecution for abandonment.

Credit Lori Mack / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
Meriden police displayed clippings collected about the case over more than 30 years.

Police said they’ve carried this case with them since 1988. Retired Detective Sgt. Keith McCurdy saved every newspaper clipping and press release that was put out.

“We made a commitment that we would not forget this child,” McCurdy said. “We made the arrangements for the funeral. It occurred to us that there was nobody to bury this poor child.”

McCurdy said the casket, burial plot and costs for the funeral home were donated. They’ve held a service every year on Jan. 2 since the baby was found. Members of the Meriden Police Department unofficially adopted the baby, named David Paul by the local clergy. It means “God’s beloved little man.”

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.

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