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Texas Cold Case Of Baby Left To Die In A Ditch Solved With DNA

The newborn, nicknamed “Angel Baby Doe,” was found dead along a rural road with her umbilical cord still attached in November 2001.

Johnson County Sheriff’s OfficeA sketch of “Angel Baby Doe,” who was found in a Texas ditch in 2001.

More than two decades ago, a man picking up cans along the side of the road between Alvarado and Burleson, Texas, came across a horrifying sight in ditch: a dead newborn baby wrapped in a jacket.

Now, thanks to DNA technology, authorities have located the infant’s biological mother and charged her with second-degree manslaughter.

The Discovery Of Angel Baby Doe

According to a 2021 Facebook post from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, on Nov. 18, 2001, a resident of Johnson County was picking up cans alongside Briar Oaks Road, south of Fort Worth, when he noticed something in a ditch.

The man went to investigate and discovered a dead infant girl wrapped in a jacket with her umbilical cord still attached. He notified the authorities, who quickly responded to the scene.

“It was evident that Angel Baby Doe, the name she has been given, had been born alive that day, outside of a medical facility,” the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office explained in their post.

Investigators found that the baby’s mother had failed to clamp her umbilical cord, which meant that Angel Baby Doe had bled to death shortly after birth.

“Due to the nature of the child’s discovery,” the Facebook post continued, “foul play has been determined.”

Angel Baby Doe HeadstoneAngel Baby Doe Headstone

YeomansNBC5/XA headstone for Angel Baby Doe, who died shortly after her birth in 2001.

In the aftermath of Angel Baby Doe’s discovery, investigators began to try to determine the identity of her biological mother — and to find answers as to how the newborn had ended up in the ditch.

“The Sheriff’s office has worked tirelessly… to find out the identity of this child,” the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said. “Various leads and tips have come in during those years, yet none have revealed her identity. It is clear that this case remains very personal for all involved.”

As they noted in their 2021 Facebook post, the sheriff’s office decided to apply a new tool to their search for answers: DNA technology. Before long, it led to Angel Baby Doe’s biological mother, Shelby Stotts.

How Authorities Tracked Down Shelby Stotts

In the end, the cold case of Angel Baby Doe was solved thanks to DNA.

Shelby StottsShelby Stotts

Johnson County Sheriff’s OfficeShelby Stotts has now been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

“In June 2021, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic evidence to Othram [a private DNA laboratory]… in hopes that advanced DNA testing could help to identify the child,” the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office explained on Facebook in July 2024. “Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA profile for the infant.”

Using the DNA profile, investigators were able to locate “potential relatives” of Angel Baby Doe. This, in turn, led them to Shelby Stotts, who was working as a paraprofessional at Cleburne High School in nearby Cleburne, Texas, at the time of the infant’s death. She has been indicted for second-degree manslaughter by the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Missing Persons and Cold Case Unit.

“According to the indictment, in November 2001, Stotts recklessly caused the death of her newborn daughter by leaving the baby unattended on the side of the road, failing to seek prompt medical care after giving birth, and failing to clamp the baby’s umbilical cord which caused the child to bleed to death,” the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office explained. “Stotts will be prosecuted under the laws that were in effect at the time of the offense.”

So far, Stotts has not made a statement on the charges. But the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office was jubilant over the conclusion of this 23-year-old case. On Facebook, they wrote: “COLD CASE OF BABY DOE… SOLVED!”

After reading about the sad conclusion to this 23-year-old Texas cold case, see how investigators solved the cold case of the “boy in the box” after 65 years. Or, look through other cold cases that remain unsolved to this day.

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