DNA Test Leads to Murder Charge Against Seattle Woman Who Threw Baby in Trash 24 Years Ago: Police

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Christine Warren, 50, was found using DNA genotyping uploaded to GEDmatch, a public genealogy website.

Seattle detectives believe they have solved a 24-year mystery of a newborn that was left discarded in a trash can at a gas station in 1997. Through DNA testing, the mother of the deceased child has been identified as the suspect and charged with the infant's murder, according to authorities.

Christine Warren, 50, was arrested on March 11 and charged with second-degree murder of her newborn son. Warren had allegedly given birth in the bathroom and then had thrown the baby into the trash. An attendant emptying the trash made the gruesome discovery of the dead baby, police said. According to the medical examiner, the baby had been born alive, court documents revealed, according to multiple reports, including KING-TV and the Seattle Times.

During the investigation, a witness came forward and told police she had recalled opening the door for a woman whose images were captured on video. She said the woman went straight to the restroom and than said she later heard cries from a baby, People reported.

Video images taken on November 20, 1997, show a woman believed to be Warren, who was 27 years old at the time, entering the store at 11:20 p.m with a piece of clothing wrapped around her waist. Fourteen minutes later, the young woman was leaving the store, the news outlet reported,

A medical examiner initially reported that the baby, whose umbilical cord and placenta were still attached, died from natural causes, but a month later the authorities revised it to a homicide, according to court documents obtained by People. 

The case went cold for more than two decades until 2018 when police reopened the case using DNA that had been collected at the crime scene and transported to a private lab. The results of DNA genotyping were then uploaded to GEDmatch, a public genealogy website, which allowed an expert to identify individuals with potential biological links to the mother, according to the documents, KING-TV reported

Warren’s name was added to the list last March, and police soon discovered that Warren lived in the Seattle area and was able to match her physical characteristics with the woman seen in the surveillance video. Then the undercover operation began when the police invited Warren to participate in a survey for a flavored water beverage company. Part of the survey involved collecting Warren’s DNA. Detectives say they then made the match confirming Warren was the person responsible for her infant's death, according to People.

On March 1 authorities questioned Warren, who they say told them that she was the newborn’s mother and the person in the surveillance video, according to reports.

During questioning,  investigators say Warren told them the newborn's father had reacted negatively to the unplanned pregnancy, and she did not tell anyone else about it or pursue any medical care while pregnant. Detective says she told them that she never checked the baby’s vital signs before placing it in the trash can and covering it up with garbage, a report said.  

Since then, Warren has gone on to live a seemingly quiet life. Attorneys said she lives alone in a Seattle apartment and works in tech support, Q13 Fox Seattle reported.

Warren was released on Monday after posting $10,000 bail, according to online records for the King County jail. She did not indicate if she has an attorney. She is scheduled to be arraigned on March 29, according to People. 

If convicted, she faces a sentence of 10 to 18 years, charging documents said, according to multiple reports.