New DNA technique may help identify infant in Northfield based cold case

4 mins read

WATERBURY — Detectives with the Vermont State Police are hoping an emerging investigative technique involving DNA will help shed light on the unsolved 1982 killing of an infant in Northfield today.

Baby Boy Doe was found dead April 1, 1982, on the side of Mill Hill Road in Northfield, wrapped in a brown bath towel inside a sealed plastic garbage bag. Evidence indicated the boy had been carried full term and born healthy only hours earlier, likely nearby.

His death is attributed to exposure to the elements. The identity of his parents remains unknown.

Now, partnering with a Virginia-based company that specializes in genetic genealogy, the state police Cold Case Unit is working toward a break in the case that could lead to the baby’s identity or the identity of the parents.

“Baby Boy Doe left us with an important clue about what might have happened to him: his DNA,” said Capt. Scott Dunlap, who oversees the Cold Case Unit as commander of the Major Crime Unit.

“In the nearly 40 years since his death, technology has caught up with the evidence, allowing us to move forward in a way that was never possible before.”

The Vermont State Police has partnered with Parabon Nanolabs, based in Reston, Virginia, to conduct the genetic genealogy testing — a procedure that comes with a roughly $5,000 price tag. Parabon has launched a “Justice Drive” to raise money to cover their costs.

“We’ve never lost sight of this victim or of the secondary victims in this case. We want to learn the identity of this infant, help bring answers to the community, and hold the offender responsible,” said Heather Gibbs, a cold case specialist with the state police.

“Our detectives have done amazing and tireless work on this case since 1982, but our investigative efforts can go only so far.”

“We used the time during the pandemic-related stay-home orders earlier this year to pursue many unsolved cases,” she continued, “and the DNA techniques now available to us are helping advance the progress of the Baby Boy Doe investigation.”

Members of the public can help in several ways.

Anyone with tips or other information they think could be relevant should contact Detective Sgt. Angela Baker at, or submit an anonymous tip online (

People who want to learn more about the Baby Boy Doe investigation should visit the case page on the Vermont State Police website, or visit the Justice Drive page established by Parabon Nanolabs.

“Vermonters should know that we continue to pursue unsolved homicides, even after many years or decades,” Capt. Dunlap said. “We know how important it is to bring closure to families, and offenders to justice. The Baby Boy Doe case is just the latest example — and it’s one where members of the public can play a direct role in helping us find answers.”