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Woman Arrested More Than Two Decades After Body Of 'Baby Faith' Was Found In Reservoir
"At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, when this case is finally adjudicated, Baby Faith will have two things she didn't have on Aug. 24, 1996 — that's a voice and a true identity," said a Colorado investigator after the arrest of Jennifer Katalanich.
A Colorado woman has been arrested for murder more than two decades after the body of a newborn baby was found in a bag weighted down with rocks in the shallow waters of a reservoir.
Jennifer Katalinich, who is also known as Jennifer Tjornehoj, is now facing charges of murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree for the death of “Baby Faith”—the name given to the infant by the community after her body was discovered in 1996, according to statement from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
"Baby Faith" was found by two 11-year-old boys who were playing in the shores of the Horsetooth Reservoir on Aug. 24, 1996, The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports. She had been wrapped in a brown towel and put into a plastic trash bag, weighted down by rocks.
The Larimer County Coroner’s Office would later determine that the infant—whose umbilical cord was still attached—had been born alive and had died of asphyxia/suffocation.
The community raised money to hold a memorial service in the infant's honor.
She is buried at the Roselawn Cemetery under a headstone that reads: “Baby Faith God Loves You August 22, 1996.”
“Until recently, we feared we would never know her by any other name or why she was left alone in the cold waters of Horsetooth Reservoir in August of 1996,” former Larimer Sheriff’s Office investigation Sgt. Andy Josey said in a press conference, according to the local paper. “A case like this one is not ever forgotten.”
Investigators tried to piece together what had happened to the infant and “aggressively pursued all leads” in the case, but the case eventually grew cold.
It was reopened 10 years to the day after “Baby Faith” was found in the water as investigators hoped that new advances in DNA technology might provide new leads.
“They also hoped that reopening the case on the 10-year anniversary would generate new tips and leads from public,” the sheriff’s office said. “Unfortunately, no new information surfaced that would further the investigation.”
But investigators would take another look at the case 10 years later in November 2016. Now, two decades after “Baby Faith” had first been discovered, investigators decided to resubmit evidence containing DNA to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for a new analysis.
By July 2019, the CBI found “five individuals with a probability of being related to ‘Baby Faith,’” signaling a significant break in the case, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators were able to determine four people deemed “most probable” to have information in case and traveled to Minnesota on Oct. 6 to interview three of them. All three were excluded.
Investigators then traveled to Maryland to meet with the fourth individual, Jennifer Katalanich, and learned that she could have information related to the case.
She agreed to speak with investigators on Oct. 18 and a warrant was later issued for her arrest.
Katalinich had been 18 at the time of the baby’s death and had been listed in the mid-1990s as a student living in Colorado State University’s Westfall Hall, according to court records.
Investigators declined to say whether she had any relation to the baby, the local newspaper reports.
"At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, when this case is finally adjudicated, Baby Faith will have two things she didn't have on Aug. 24, 1996 — that's a voice and a true identity," said Robert Coleman, captain of Larimer County Sheriff's Office's Investigations Division.
Katalinich was booked into the Larimer County Jail on Tuesday. She was later released after posting a $25,000 bond and surrendering her passport, according to Colorado Hometown Weekly.