Mom arrested in 1986 homicide of strangled baby found in sanitation truck

Janita M. Philips, 62, admitted to causing her child’s death, authorities said. She surrendered at the Greenwich, Connecticut, Police Headquarters on Friday.
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Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 4:41 PM EST
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(NBC) - More than 35 years after her baby was found dead in a sanitation truck in Connecticut, a Florida woman was arrested Friday on a charge of murder, police said.

Janita M. Philips, 62, of Lake Mary, Florida, turned herself in at the Greenwich, Connecticut, Police headquarters, where she was booked in connection with the boy’s death.

The baby was found dead in a sanitation truck that had just emptied a dumpster at a Greenwich apartment on May 16, 1986, police said.

The baby’s cause of death was strangulation and it was determined that the child was born alive and killed soon after birth. The case was ruled a homicide by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Detectives at the crime scene collected items soaked with blood and conducted interviews with residents of the apartment building. However, the case went cold and the suspect remained a mystery for years.

The Greenwich Police Cold Case Unit used newly available forensic testing in the case in 2020, which they said linked physical evidence from the scene to the mother of the baby.

That lead and assistance from law enforcement in Florida confirmed the identity of the parent as Philips, according to police. She was a resident of the apartment at the time of the child’s death.

Greenwich Police detectives traveled to Florida and interviewed Philips in September 2021 with assistance from Seminole County Sheriff’s Office detectives.

“During this interview, and in a subsequent written statement, Philips admitted that she was the mother of the child and that she caused his death,” police said in a release.

Additional DNA testing further confirmed that she was the mother of the baby.

Officials obtained an arrest warrant for Philips on Nov. 17 from the Superior Court in Stamford.

She will be arraigned Friday.

“We are grateful that justice is finally being obtained for this infant child of our community. The investigation of his tragic death has taken many long years, but he has always been remembered and we hope this conclusion will bring him peace and recognition,” Deputy Chief Robert Berry said in a statement.

“There have been many Greenwich Detectives over the last thirty-five years who have investigated this case to the extent of the resources available to them, but I would like to especially single out the work of Greenwich Police Detective First Grade Christy Girard whose tireless efforts, investigative skill and ingenuity brought this investigation to a successful conclusion,” he added

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