Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

A Mississippi couple were arrested more than 30 years after their newborn baby girl was found dead in a dumpster.

50-year-old Inga Johansen Carriere and 50-year-old Andrew Carriere II were each charged with first-degree murder in the cold case death of the unnamed infant, whose headstone reads “Heaven’s Angel.”

Advancements in DNA technology helped police identify the couple, who were living in Louisiana, as suspects decades after the baby’s body was found. Police in Picayune, Mississippi announced the arrests on March 9.

The case dates back to April 1992, when a farmer found a “fully developed newborn” girl wrapped in a towel stuffed in trash bags behind what is now a defunct pizzeria in Picayune, close to the Louisiana border, police said.

The autopsy showed the baby was “probably” born that morning, about three weeks premature, and “lived a few minutes before being smothered,” police said.

The state medical examiner ruled the case a homicide, and the local police department preserved the collected evidence and crime scene photos for decades after the case went cold.

The case was reopened in 2021 and included a multi-state investigation with a series of events that unfolded over the last two years, which ended with the Carrieres’ arrests in late February and early March, according to police.

Paul Fleming, who’s been a Jefferson Parish, Louisiana public defender since the mid-1990s, is representing Inga Johansen.

He said his understanding, through their preliminary investigation, is that the baby was “stillborn,” which means it’s not considered a newborn or baby, so the crime of murder can’t happen since it’s legally “not a person.”

He said they will have to wait for the autopsy report, which won’t be released to the defense until after an indictment and that can take months. Then he wants an independent pathologist to remove the report.

“We’ve only seen a couple cases this old, but not that many,” Fleming said. “DNA wasn’t that prevalent back in the ’90s. It was around, but it was a new science. It wasn’t done on a regular basis and took weeks to come back with results … The age of the case will be problematic to prosecute and problematic to defend.”

After Picayune police reopened the case, investigators tracked down the baby’s burial plot to the Salem community using tips from retired officers.

“We were advised that a local church donated the plot and its members collected money for a headstone,” Picayune police said in a statement. “In May 2021, a headstone was found at Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church … with the headstone (that) read ‘Heavens Angel’ April 15, 1992 – April 15, 1992,” which was confirmed by the coroner.

Using the latest advances in DNA technology, which has led to a recent boom in cold case clearances, law enforcement identified the couple as potential suspects.

The Carrieres were living in Louisiana by August 2021, so the Louisiana State Police joined the investigation and obtained DNA samples.

“Through investigative means, detectives were able to identify the infant’s parents as 50-year-old Andrew Carriere and 50-year-old Inga Johansen Carriere, who were living in Louisiana at the time of the death,” Louisiana State Police said in a press release.

Arrest warrants were issued for the couple in Louisiana, and Inga Johansen was arrested on Feb. 28 at her home in Avondale, Louisiana, and Andrew was arrested in Galliano, Louisiana on March 9.

They are both being held at Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility without bond after being extradited from Mississippi, according to jail records.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com