FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Erie woman arrested last year in the death of "Baby Faith" has pleaded guilty to murder charges in the 1996 cold case, according to court records.
Jennifer Katalinich, 42, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder of a victim under the age of 12 and second-degree murder.
Katalinich is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
DNA evidence led investigators to Katalinich, who they say suffocated the baby girl on August 22, 1996. The infant’s body was found two days later by two local boys in Horsetooth Reservoir.
Dubbed “Baby Faith,” the infant was found inside a plastic garbage bag in the waters of the reservoir with her umbilical cord still attached, the sheriff’s office said.
"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 1996," said retired LCSO investigator Andy Josey. "I came to know a newborn girl who was left by choice, not by chance, and knew then as I do today, that she didn’t deserve to be left alone."
Days after Baby Faith was found, the unidentified infant was buried with a community-funded gravestone in the Roselawn Cemetery in Fort Collins.
Efforts to identify the mother of the child proved exhausting after investigators aggressively pursued all leads following the discovery. The case was declared cold years later.
However, last July, investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations met with LCSO investigators. They reported that DNA evidence pointed to a total of five individuals with a probability of being related to Baby Faith, according to a press release.
The case was reopened, and in October of 2019, investigators traveled to Minnesota, where three of the individuals lived. Following interviews, all three individuals were excluded from involvement in the case, the release read.
Investigators then traveled to Maryland and met with the fourth individual. Based on information obtained during the interview in Maryland, investigators determined Katalinich could have information about the 23-year-old case, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities interviewed Katalinich on October 18, and a warrant for her arrest was issued Friday. Authorities declined to confirm whether the 42-year-old Erie woman is the mother of the child.