A 50-year-old woman in South Carolina is facing decades in prison for killing her newborn daughter more than 30 years ago, suffocating and stabbing the little girl just hours after she was born, stuffing the child’s body into a plastic “Sears” shopping bag, and tossing it in a river.
A jury in York County on Friday found Stacy Michelle Rabon guilty on one count of homicide by child abuse in the horrific 1992 death of the newborn baby who members of the community dubbed “Angel Hope,” authorities announced.
“Tonight, hours away from what would have been her thirty-first birthday, that baby finally got justice when a York County jury found her mother guilty of homicide by child abuse,” the York County Solicitor’s Office said in a news release posted to the office’s Facebook page.
According to the release, an 18-year-old man swimming in the Catawba River on Aug. 12, 1992, came across a “Sears shopping bag” floating in the water between Rock Hill and Fort Mill. Inside the bag, the man discovered the body of an hours-old baby that appeared to have been stabbed to death. The newborn’s body had been wrapped in a sheet, according to a report from Charlotte, North Carolina, CW affiliate WCCB.
In her opening statement to the jury on Tuesday, Senior Solicitor Leslie Robinson pointed out the tragic irony of Angel Hope’s initial resting place.
“In that era, Sears’s slogan was ‘You Can Count on Me,’” she said in the release. “Her killer remained a mystery for three decades until DNA finally revealed the identity of the mother that she tragically could not count on.”
The man who first discovered the victim’s body, John Pierce, took the stand during the first day of Raobn’s trial and told jurors about what happened that day more than three decades ago, Charlotte, North Carolina ABC affiliate WSOC-TV reported.
“I started unraveling the sheets and the stuff that was around it, and when I did, to my surprise, the baby was there,” he said.
But as leads in the investigation dried up, the case went cold and remained that way for years. However, investigators in 2019 reportedly recovered DNA evidence from the sheet used to wrap the victim before she was discarded in the river. That DNA led back to Rabon, whose DNA was in a national criminal database due to a previous conviction for drugs, prosecutors said.
Upon questioning, authorities said Rabon admitted to giving birth to a baby girl inside a van on Aug. 12, 1992, but claimed that she gave the newborn to a couple for adoption, The Herald reported.
Sheriff Kevin Tolson thanked investigators and the DNA analysts who helped close the cold case after so many decades, saying, “While nothing can right this terrible wrong, there is some comfort in knowing that justice will be served thanks to the men and women who worked on this case.”
The case had a significant impact on the surrounding area, with community members eschewing the typical “Jane Doe” moniker for the unidentified child, instead naming her Angel Hope. Angel was buried at the Forest Hills cemetery with community members footing the bill for ceremony and burial expenses, Charlotte, North Carolina CBS affiliate WBTV reported.
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