MOLINE, Ill. — Nearly three decades have passed since a man walking in Moline’s old 17th Street Park found a trash bag containing the body of an infant girl floating along the shores of the Mississippi River.
The child became known as Baby April, named for the month in 1992 she was found. She was buried in Riverside Cemetery.
Moline Police Chief Darren Gault said Thursday the diligence of detectives and advancements in the use of DNA led to the arrest of Angela Siebke, 47, of Whitehall, Ohio. She is being held in the Rock Island County Jail and is charged with first-degree murder.
Siebke’s bail was set at $1 million.
Gault credited genetic genealogy tracing and the work done in Baby April’s case to Parabon Nanolabs, the same Reston, Va., company that identified the suspect in the 1979 fatal stabbing on Michelle Martinko, 18, at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.
That evidence led to the conviction of Jerry Burns, 66, of Manchester, in February. He is now serving life in prison.
In a news conference Thursday, Gault looked back on the case and described the technology that led to Siebke’s arrest.
“This case has been diligently worked by the Moline Police Department for many years, initially by retired Detective George Miklas and Detective Mike Griffin,” Gault said. “Through advancements in DNA technology, Moline police obtained a DNA profile of the mother and pursued criminal charges against the unknown named mother.”
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Gault recalled in 2014 then-Rock Island County States Attorney John McGehee announced a first-degree murder charge against “female contributor to human DNA profile P92-001627.”
At the time of McGehee’s announcement, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a woman 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 woman’s legal name.
“Genetic genealogy,” Gault said, “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.”
Genetic genealogists use comparative DNA analysis — the measure of the amount of DNA that is shared between two people, combined with traditional genealogy research using historical records to infer relationships between individuals.
Gault said Parabon “only uses publicly available GG databases, such as GEDmatch, with policies that users must agree to that allow law enforcement usage.”
Gault said Parabon Nanolabs in November supplied an additional report that provided genetic matches and genealogy research used to construct a set of ancestors and narrow a list of leads.
Moline police investigators worked the leads and on Dec. 1 located Siebke at her residence in Ohio. In 1992, Siebke lived in Orion, Ill., a small city 20 miles east of Davenport.
Siebke was served a search warrant in Ohio for her DNA by Moline police detectives. A warrant for her arrest was issued Dec. 17.