Woman admits to killing infant found in dumpster 35 years ago
GREENWICH, Conn. (News 12) - Police in Connecticut say a woman has confessed to killing her newborn son more than three and a half decades ago. DNA evidence led to the break in the long-cold case.
Janita Phillips, 62, appeared in court Friday more than 35 years after police say she secretly gave birth to a baby boy in her apartment, strangled him and left him in a bag in the dumpster outside her building in Greenwich, Connecticut.
“She indicated during her interview… that she did not inform anyone – any friends, family – of the pregnancy,” said Deputy Chief Robert Berry with Greenwich Police.
Phillips is charged with murder in the 1986 case. She was released on a promise to appear, with the state’s attorney and defense citing her otherwise spotless record and cooperation with police.
Court documents show Phillips was interviewed back in 1986 after a sanitation worker found the baby in his truck when he emptied the dumpster. She denied any knowledge of what happened and would not agree to a blood test.
“I would say she could’ve been considered a person of interest at the time,” Berry said.
The case remained cold until 2019 when police say new forensic testing allowed them to re-examine previously collected evidence. It confirmed blood on those items was a maternal match.
“DNA was just coming out as a very early science in 1986, and it has changed. It continues to change,” Police Chief James Heavey said.
Phillips’ arrest warrant shows additional investigating last year led authorities to her current home in Lake Mary, Florida. Investigators collected garbage and recycling left on the curb and got a DNA match.
Police say they interviewed Phillips in September, and she confessed.
“This conclusion doesn’t bring back baby John, but it reinforces that his life had meaning and that he will be remembered,” Berry said.
Attorney Lindy Urso is representing Phillips and says her client is devastated about that time of her life.
“Any way you cut the pie, it’s a very, very tragic situation, and she’s had to live with this grief for 35 years,” Urso said.
In Phillips’ statement to police, she wrote that she knew her husband didn’t want any more kids and had big dreams of becoming a fashion designer.
“I didn’t want to crash his dreams and fall down the rabbit hole of having a bunch of kids and stuck with bills and not being able to care for them or get to achieve his dreams,” reads the statement in part.
DNA confirmed Phillips’ husband was the father of the baby who was killed, according to the warrant. Police say he had no idea what happened.
The couple raised three other kids together.
“She’s overcome whatever happened here, and she’s lived a stellar life. Never been arrested, this is her first time ever being arrested. She’s raised a family, been married for all this time. She’s been working steadily for 30 years in the same industry,” Urso said.
Greenwich Police recognized Detective 1st Grade Christy Girard’s work on this case, specifically her tenacity and investigative skills.
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