ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Nearly 30 years after an infant girl’s stabbed body was found floating on a South Carolina river, authorities announced the arrest Tuesday of the child’s mother and said she has been charged in the death.
Stacy Michelle Costner Rabon, 48, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, faces a charge of homicide by child abuse in connection with the girl’s death in August 1992, news outlets reported. Only hours old when she died, the child was found wrapped in a bedsheet inside a plastic grocery bag that was discovered by a swimmer on the Catawba River, officials said.
Authorities said the child had stab wounds but a coroner’s report determined that the death was the result of suffocation — not drowning or the stabbings.
Detectives reexamined the case last October and submitted DNA from the bed sheet to the York County Forensic Biology Lab for testing. Results identified Rabon as a suspect and deputies were eventually able to obtain a warrant for her arrest, authorities said.
Rabon was arrested Tuesday and was being held at the York County Detention Center. It was unknown if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf. The charge carries a prison sentence of 30 years to life in the event of a conviction.
“I am very thankful for the hard work of our detectives and DNA analysts. Their dedication and ability to work cooperatively has led to the closure of a case that has haunted our community for years,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a news conference.
In 1992, the baby was named Angel Hope by members of the community who also paid for her burial at a cemetery in Rock Hill.
A DNA match between the baby and Rabon was made after Rabon was arrested on a drug distribution charge in 2019, Tolson said. DNA was collected from Rabon after her arrest, Tolson added.
Rabon’s DNA was sent to a national DNA database where it matched with evidence in the baby’s case from 1992, Tolson said. While the initial DNA match pointed authorities toward a suspect, Tolson said, more investigation was needed before Rabon could be charged.
“This child deserved our best,” Tolson said. “Maybe now she will be called Baby Angel Justice.”
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