PUEBLO COUNTY — The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) announced Monday that detectives have solved a 23-year-old cold case homicide.
The "Baby Hope" cold case involved an infant girl whose body was found in 1996 in the Arkansas River, west of the Nature Center.
According to the PCSO, the case of Baby Hope recently resurfaced as Detective David Butterfield, who took over the case in 2017, continued pursuing leads into the identification of the infant's parents and others involved in her death.
Based on leads developed with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, detectives contacted and attempted to question all persons of interest in the case. One of those people was 52-year-old LeeAnne Hed of Pueblo West, who was contacted in October of 2019. She refused to talk to detectives.
The PCSO said that days later, a body was found inside a burned car in the lot of the Southern Colorado Gaming & Events Center. That body was identified as LeeAnne Hed and her death was determined to be a suicide.
Biological evidence from Hed was compared to DNA from Baby Hope and Hed was identified as the the infant's mother.
According to the PCSO, the Baby Hope case began on Aug. 24, 1996 when two fisherman found the infant's body in the river below the reservoir. An autopsy showed the baby had been born alive before she was left in the river and drowned. The death was ruled a homicide and the child was buried under the name "Baby Hope" at Mountain View Cemetery, according to the PCSO.
In the release Monday, the PCSO said further investigation by detectives determined that Hed was solely responsible for the death of Baby Hope. The case has now been closed.
“If not for the support and assistance provided by the CBI, this case would still be unsolved,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “I want to thank CBI for their work on helping us bring a resolution to this case and I commend our detectives for their perseverance, dedication and diligent work on it. Bringing closure to this case demonstrates our determination to solve crimes, no matter how old or how cold the case may be.”