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DNA shows found newborn was Hispanic

By Kate Brumback
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Police investigating the murder of a newborn found dead in the tank of a gas station toilet have new DNA evidence that suggests the baby's mother is Hispanic, Montgomery police said Tuesday.

Investigators submitted DNA samples to a Sarasota, Fla.-based company that ran new tests to determine race based on ancestral makeup. Matt Thom-as, a senior scientist at DNA
Print Genomics, said they tested samples from both the baby and the mother, who is suspected of capital murder in the case.

"What we found is they were basically a mixture of Native American and European, which is a very typical Hispanic profile," Thomas told reporters on Tuesday.

Lt. Keith Barnett, a Montgomery homicide detective, said the new information, received in the last few days, will allow the police department to narrow its search to the city's Hispanic community.

"This information is a key lead in this case," Barnett said. "This will allow us to focus our manpower and our resources in more of a general direction in solving this case."

Using a surveillance video, police previously believed the mother was a light-skinned black woman or possibly Hispanic, Barnett said. He added that police have gotten dozens of tips since the baby was found in September, but most led them to black women.

The police department now plans to focus its efforts on areas where Hispanics are known to live in Montgomery, Barnett said. A new lookout flier has already been translated into Spanish to give details of the case and ask anyone with information to contact police. Police are also considering additional billboards in Spanish.

"I hope we get a tip," Barnett said. "I'd love to get a call tonight telling us this is a person we need to talk to."

Based on DNAPrint's tests, Thomas said he believes the father is also Hispanic, information that could prove useful in evaluating the validity of tips.

"Since we were able to test both the child and the suspect, that gives us the ability to try to infer information about the father," he said. "My reading of the data suggests that the father is also Hispanic, also has a high amount of Native American ancestry, just because the child and the suspect have fairly similar profiles."

The baby was found dead in the tank of a toilet at the Gas Depot on West Fairview Avenue on Sept. 1, the day she was born. A Montgomery family touched by her story adopted the dead baby, named her Catherine Siena and gave her a proper burial in October.

Barnett said police "have as much reason to believe the suspect is still in the area as we do that she's gone."

They are now looking for a Hispanic female who is between 5 feet 1 inches and 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs between 120 and 130 pounds, Barnett said. Since she carried the baby to term, the woman would have become pregnant in early January 2006.

Barnett noted that rewards totaling $15,000 have been offered by the District Attorney's office, the governor's office and the city of Montgomery for any information that leads to an arrest in this case.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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