RED WING — Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office will look to use DNA analysis to help solve the deaths of three newborns found in the Mississippi River at three separate locations spanning nearly a decade. And it’s asking for the public to help make it happen.
The sheriff’s office has committed $5,000 to fund genetic genealogy analysis of the first body, that of a baby girl found in the water in 1999 by a fisherman near Red Wing, according to a news release Monday, Aug. 3.
The genealogy report will compare the girl’s DNA with volunteers in GEDmatch, a publicly available DNA database where participants voluntarily upload their DNA files in hopes of identifying relatives. Law enforcement agencies have used genetic genealogy to solve cold cases following the surge in popularity of at-home DNA test kits in recent years.
Sheriff Marty Kelly said authorities remain committed to solving the cases.
"Much time has gone by and now even more technology and resources are available to us," Kelly wrote in an email Tuesday. "We still need the public to help us to solve these and we are steadfast in our determination to see it through to the end."
The sheriff’s office started a JusticeDrive fundraiser to help cover the estimated $10,000 cost of genetic genealogy reports in the other two cases.
Four years after the first infant was found near Red Wing’s Bay Point Park, a baby boy was found dead by teenagers on the shore of Lake Pepin near Frontenac. DNA testing in the mid-2000s determined a high likelihood the children shared the same mother.
The third child, a newborn girl said to be Native American or Hispanic and unrelated to the first two, was discovered in 2007 at the Treasure Island marina.
Law enforcement followed up on information received about the cases over the years. Details about the third newborn — nicknamed “Abby” by area residents — also was included in a 2011 social media campaign by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. But tips eventually dried up and the cases went cold.
Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office at 651-385-3155.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated DNA would be compared to the DNA of volunteers in databases for private consumer testing companies. The DNA database to be used is the publicly available GEDmatch.