Colorado mom charged with murder 23 years after two 11-year-old boys found newborn girl wrapped in plastic bag
Jennifer Katalinich, 42, was arrested after DNA evidence confirmed she was the infant's mother.
LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: A 42-year-old woman has been arrested and charged in connection to a two-decades-old murder of an infant who was found wrapped in a plastic trash bag.
Jennifer (Tjornehoj) Katalinich was arrested on a felony warrant regarding the 1996 'Baby Faith' case, according to a press release from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
The case was first opened on August 24, 1996, when the LCSO received a report that two 11-year-old boys had discovered the body of a newborn female in Horsetooth Reservoir. Larimer County Park Rangers, deputies, and investigators responded to the scene and learned that the infant had been found inside a plastic trash bag.
An autopsy performed on the child, who was named 'Baby Faith,' determined the cause of death as asphyxia/suffocation and the manner of death was ruled to be suicide. Through donations from the community and a local church, a funeral service was held for her, and she was laid to rest in the Roselawn Cemetery in Fort Collins.
While investigators aggressively pursued all leads, there was no breakthrough and the case was declared cold. It was reopened on August 24, 2006, in the hope that advances in DNA technology and the fact that it was the 10th anniversary would generate new leads.
However, detectives once again received no information that could further the case. In November 2016, investigators resubmitted evidence containing DNA to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for updated analysis.
In July this year, the CBI met with LCSO investigators and informed them that there were a total of five individuals with a probability of being related to Baby Faith. Further investigation eliminated all the individuals except for Katalinich.
Investigators met with the 42-year-old on October 18 and confirmed she was the infant's mother. Investigator Rita Servin subsequently presented the case to the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office.
On November 1, an arrest warrant was issued for Katalinich for murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree. She surrendered four days later and was booked into Larimer County Jail before being released after posting a $25,000 bond.
Speaking about the case Sheriff Justin Smith said, "This case serves as a great reminder that LCSO is determined to solve all cases despite the amount of time that passes after the commission of the crime. It often takes just one citizen to come forward with information to spark new life into a cold case."