CHICAGO (CBS) — Two years ago the body of a baby was found inside a burning house in Markham, but now the baby has finally been identified. And someone intentionally killed her.
The Cook County Medical Examiner said that baby was 1-year-old Ana Marie Townsend. Her death is ruled a homicide.
It’s likely she was suffocated and taken to an abandoned home that her killer then set on fire.
Ana Marie lived only one year, leaving behind grieving grandparents with far too few memories.
Ana Marie was a very vibrant young lady,” said James Townsend. “She was very smart. Even at 12 months old she was inquisitive and a beautiful baby.”
It was July 3, 2017, when firefighters were called to an abandoned house in the 1500 block of Hamlin Avenue in Markham.
Inside they discovered the remains of an unidentified baby, the body wrapped in a plastic bag.
Photos of the child’s clothing were released in an effort to identify her.
It was DNA testing that eventually led to her identity. Baby Ana Marie Townsend lived less than five minutes from where her body was found.
The autopsy showed she suffered prior abuse, with multiple healed bone fractures.
Ana Marie’s mother, Melody Townsend, and father, Rico Garrett, both vanished three weeks after the fire. No one has heard from them since.
Markham police say they are looking for the couple.
“My concerns about Melody is that she’s OK first of all. I’d like to know if she’s OK,” Townsend said.
While Townsend fears his daughter may not be alive and grieves the loss of his granddaughter, he and his wife are raising Ana Marie’s 12-year-old sister.
Markham police say they are aggressively investigating the case, but no charges have been filed or suspects named.
This leaves the child once known as Baby Jane Doe with an identity but without justice.
“Answers. I need answers,” said Townsend. “Me and my wife, we need answers to those questions..”
Investigators found accelerants were used in the home, so in addition to charges related to the death of the baby, there will also be arson charges.