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Remains of baby found in Defiance County, Ohio exhumed after two decades

The remains of an unidentified baby were exhumed Tuesday in Defiance County. (WNWO/Jim Nelson)

DEFIANCE, Ohio (WNWO) - A cold case more than two decades old has been reopened in Defiance County.

The body of a newborn baby found dead in 1994 was exhumed Tuesday for further testing.

"We really feel this is our best opportunity," said Sheriff Doug Engel, who was one of the initial case investigators.

In late October 1994, the newborn girl was found at Riverview Memory Gardens. She was inside of a dry cleaning bag.

"We tried very hard to identify the child," said Engel.

But the investigation revealed very little - other than the fact that a medical clamp had been placed on the girl's umbilical cord at birth.

No cause of death was determined and the baby was laid to rest in the cemetery.

"It was very difficult," Engel said outside his office on Tuesday. "We ran several leads, hundreds of leads - and when you run out of leads, things go cold."

Now, almost 23 years later, the department is enlisting the help of the FBI. The agency reviewed the case files and it was agreed upon that the remains would be exhumed for DNA testing that would not have been as readily available in 1994.

"There are so many more individuals in the database for us to search," Engel notes.

For 23 years, answers to the mystery have eluded investigators who remain confident that somebody knows something.

Sheriff Engel, as well as the FBI, are encouraging anyone with information to come forward - even if they feel they may have done something wrong or made a mistake.

At this point, he says, closure is needed, if only for Baby Jane Doe.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office at 419-784-1155 or the FBI, Toledo Resident Agency at 419-243-6122.

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