Mother arrested in 2005 murder of newborn found in airport bathroom

Investigators used genetic genealogy to identify new leads in the case.

February 21, 2024, 3:38 PM

Investigators believe they have solved a decades-old cold case, identifying the woman who allegedly killed her newborn baby and left her in an Arizona airport bathroom in 2005.

The baby's mother, 51-year-old Annie Anderson, is in custody in Washington state on a warrant related to the investigation. She is now awaiting extradition before she is formally charged in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Genetic genealogy databases were used to identify family matches to the profile of the baby's mother based on DNA evidence they had found at the scene. After identifying a possible relative through genetic genealogy, police approached the person, who then consented to providing a DNA sample.

The investigation began on Oct. 10, 2005, when police responded to a report of a dead baby in a Terminal 4 bathroom at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix police Lt. James Hester said at a press conference.

On the scene, police found a dead female newborn wrapped in newspapers and a white towel stuffed in a plastic bag with red Marriott lettering, Hester said. Police said it was likely the birth did not happen at the airport, according to evidence on the scene.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Jan. 6, 2020.
Aerial view of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Jan. 6, 2020.
Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

At the time, police were unsuccessful in identifying a suspect, Hester said. The medical examiner's office determined the baby, dubbed Baby Skylar, died as a result of suffocation, ruling the death a homicide, Hester said.

DNA from the scene -- that police identified as being from the mother -- was run against DNA evidence in police databases, but authorities were unable to identify the suspect at the time, he said.

In 2020, the case was identified as one in which genetic genealogy could be used to identify new leads, according to Dan Horan, a supervisory special agent for the FBI's Phoenix office.

PHOTO: Phoenix Police Department Sgt. Rob Scherer speaks during a presser about a 2005 cold case, Feb. 21, 2024.
Phoenix Police Department Sgt. Rob Scherer speaks during a presser about a 2005 cold case, Feb. 21, 2024.
KNXV

After investigators were able to piece together a family tree for the suspect, she was confronted by investigators. Anderson identified herself has the mother of the baby and told police her account of what had occurred, ultimately admitting to killing the baby.

Anderson told police she was in Arizona on business at the time of the murder. The father of the baby has been identified, but police said they have no reason to believe he has criminal culpability in the murder.