LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A Larimer County judge sentenced Jennifer Katalinich to three years of community correction for the death of "Baby Faith" in 1996.
Katalinich was arrested in November 2019 after new methods and DNA evidence led investigators to her.
Katalinich was originally charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder. She pleaded guilty to lesser charges of criminally negligent homicide of an at-risk juvenile — a Class 4 felony — and tampering with physical evidence, a Class 6 felony, in late June.
> Video above: Retired Larimer County Sheriff's deputy remembers 'Baby Faith.'
At a news conference in October 2019, retired Larimer County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) Lt. Andy Josey said Baby Faith was discovered inside a bag by two young boys on the shores of Horsetooth Reservoir on Aug. 24, 1996. The infant was found with an umbilical cord still attached, and a towel was found in the bag with the child, Josey said.
She was believed to have died within three days of birth. The Larimer County Coroner's Office ruled her death a homicide by asphyxia or suffocation, Josey said.
The investigation into the case was suspended in June 1998.
"A case like this one is never forgotten," Josey said. "I came to know a newborn girl who was left by choice and not by chance, and I knew then as I know today, she didn’t deserve to be left alone."
The same day Baby Faith was found, another deceased and unidentified newborn girl was found in the Arkansas River in the Pueblo Reservoir area in Pueblo County, some 170 miles south of Horsetooth Reservoir, Josey said.
Investigators initially thought it was a big coincidence that the two babies were found on the same day and wanted to determine if there was a connection between them, which was strongly considered at the time.
Blood samples of both unidentified babies were conducted, and it was subsequently found that there was no connection between the girls, Josey said.
Josey added that after all these years, he still remembers aspects of the case.
"I still see her. I still remember the things that we talked [about] at the time, and the things that we did at the time, and it’s always there," Josey said. "It will always be there, and that’s okay."
Investigators had previously never been able to determine the infant's identity or that of her parents, but said in 2006 that they planned to retest the baby's DNA with the hope that new technology would help them find a match.
In 2016, investigators resubmitted DNA evidence to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In July 2017, LSCO investigators met with CBI and were told there were a total of five people who could possibly be related to "Baby Faith."
On Oct 6, 2019, investigators traveled to Minnesota where three of those people lived, and were able to exclude them from involvement in the case, the Sheriff's Office said. They also traveled to Maryland and met with a fourth person, who led them to Katalinich. That person told investigators that Katalinich might have information about the case, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Investigators met with Katalinich on Oct. 18, 2019, and she agreed to speak with them. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 1, and she surrendered Tuesday morning.
"At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome when this case is finally adjudicated, Baby Faith will have two things she didn’t have [in] 1996 — a voice and a true identity," Coleman said.
Thanks to donations, a funeral was held for "Baby Faith" around the time of her death, and while no one at the service knew her, many came to say goodbye.
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