VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Valley City police hope DNA samples obtained from the body of a baby found nearly 40 years ago near the city's university could help solve the decades-old cold case.

The Valley City Police Department laid Baby Rebecca to rest Tuesday, Aug. 11, more than a year after her remains were exhumed to try and find DNA to determine her parents or relatives.

"She was finally able to speak for herself," said Chief Phil Hatcher. "We were surprised there was enough DNA; she still held all that evidence."

According to news archives, the girl’s body was found April 15, 1981, without clothing in a wooded area in the 200 block of Viking Drive Southwest. The drive runs through the Valley City State University campus.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

No marks were visible on the child, but an autopsy revealed she died by asphyxiation.

A Forum article from April 18, 1981, said “the infant was found with a plastic sheet around her head.”

"This was an infant child who was never given a chance to be able to live her life. She would be 39 years old today. She could be the CEO of a major company today; she could be a mother, she never had that chance," Hatcher said.

No suspects were named in the case, nor has anyone come forward with information about the child, who was later named Rebecca. She was buried in Valley City in 1981.

"I always thought a guilty conscience would walk in the door and want to explain," Hatcher said.

Multiple investigators have tried to solve the case throughout the years. But now they feel closer than ever to identifying Baby Rebecca and her parents.

Parabon Nanolabs in Virginia is working on mapping out a DNA profile to help investigators create a family tree. It's not a cheap process. Hatcher said it will cost close to $5,000.

The chief hopes they can identify Baby Rebecca by Christmas.

"As a tribute to her, I think we need to get this solved. We haven't had that smoking gun. Baby Rebecca held that smoking gun."

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 701-845-3110.