Conrado Juárez, who was arrested for the murder of his young cousin, Baby Hope, claims that he was coerced and under duress when he confessed the crime to NYPD detectives.
According to his initial confession, 52-year-old Juárez admitted to sexually assaulting the 4-year-old, whose real name was Anjélica Castillo, and then smothering her with a pillow to stifle her screams. He then disposed of the body in a blue Igloo cooler under some branches at the base of a tree alongside the Henry Hudson Parkway in Upper Manhattan. The cooler containing Anjélica's nude, malnourished body was discovered on July 23, 1991.
Now, awaiting trial while in protective custody at Rikers, Juárez paints a different story of Anjélica's death.
In an interview with the New York Times, Juárez said that Anjélica, and her sister, Maribel, were left with him and his now deceased sister, Balvina Juárez-Ramírez, by the girls' father, Genaro Ramirez, who was Juárez’s uncle. According to Juárez, Ramirez simply dropped the girls off and never returned.
"I told the police that I put a pillow over her face and killed her,” Juárez told The Times. “But it wasn’t like that.”
Rather, Juarez said, he received a call on his cellphone from his sister one day, who said that Anjélica had fallen down the stairs and died. (As The Times notes, Juarez would've been one of three percent Americans who owned a cellphone in 1991.)
He and his sister, Juarez said, then disposed of the body in the cooler.
Juarez's told The Times that his original story--in which he sexually assaulted Baby Hope-- came only after intense pressure from police to confess.
For more from the interview, head over to The New York Times.
Juárez has also said that he did not understand the papers, which were in English, that NYPD detectives had him sign after the confession.
Police are standing by the interrogation. The confession was videotaped in the presence of an assistant district attorney.