Who was baby Sarah?


Forty-two years ago, Baby Sarah made her mark on the community, albeit in a sad and heartbreaking way.

On an early January day, a few neighborhood kids were sledding in a front yard and thought they spotted a doll in a storm drain. The next day some older kids playing in the same area came to a horrific realization: It wasn't a doll.

The unidentified naked baby was discovered dead on Jan. 6, 1975, in a storm drain near the intersection of Birch Drive and Irving Place in Waukesha with few clues about who she was, who her parents were, and who left her in such a cold environment.

Waukesha Police Detective Tim Probst explained Baby Sarah was a full-term baby with an umbilical cord still attached. A medical examiner in 1975 concluded Sarah's death was due to exposure.

Sad mystery

Waukesha police are asking for the community's help in solving a 42-year-old cold case, which investigators have reopened in the hope they can, partly through modern resources, solve the disturbing mystery.

According to a press release from the police department, investigators in 1975 had far too few facts concerning Baby Sarah – the name given to the child during a burial ceremony held by members of the community.

The person who put the baby there nor her parents were ever identified, and investigators could not determine how long the child was in the storm drain.

The case was eventually suspended when all leads were exhausted.

New info

But in April 2016, the investigation became active again after colleagues at a homicide conference last year became aware of the unsolved case. As the discussion grew, police decided to send an email to a police retiree group to see if they could help. The group speculated who they thought potentially was involved in the 1975 case.

As a result, additional information came to light as to a possible suspect who lived in the neighborhood. With the help of retired Waukesha Police Officer John Bacskai and other witnesses, the case was re-opened and led by Probst. (Bacskai lived on the same street where Sarah was found but was not involved with the 1975 investigation.)

Then in August, baby Sarah's body was exhumed from Prairie Home Cemetery as investigators worked with a forensic anthropologist and the Waukesha County Medical Examiner to obtain a DNA sample from her remains. The sample is currently being analyzed for a DNA profile at the University of North Texas.

"It takes about seven to nine months to get a DNA profile," Probst said, adding that the analysis is done at no cost to the police department.

Authorities have not indicated any specifics in the case since it was reopened.

The release said investigators have interviewed several individuals and began talking with neighbors who lived in the area where Baby Sarah was found. Over the summer he traveled to Ohio and northern Wisconsin to talk to those people.

Need for 'closure'

Beyond the need for justice, there are other motivations in the investigation.

"Baby Sarah didn't have a voice or a say in what happened to her that day. We want to put the community at ease," Probst said.

In Probst's opinion, people deserve to know who was responsible for putting the baby in the storm drain.

"We want closure," he said.

Anyone with information should contact Probst with the Waukesha Police Department at 262-524-3814.

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