In a jailhouse interview with The New York Times published Thursday, Conrado Juarez, 52, denied killing Anjelica Castillo. He said police coerced him into a false confession that he sexually assaulted and killed her.
"I told the police that I put a pillow over her face and killed her," Juarez said. "But it wasn't like that."
Juarez acknowledged hiding the body. He said he and his sister placed it in a picnic cooler and dumped it near the Henry Hudson Parkway in Upper Manhattan.
The girl was never reported missing and was only recently identified, years after she was buried at St. Raymond's Cemetery in The Bronx under a headstone that said "Baby Hope." Police detectives who gave her that name paid for the funeral.
Juarez said his uncle, Anjelica's biological father, showed up at his sister's home in Queens with the little girl and her sister, Maribel, and left them there. He said neither of the girls' parents seemed to care about the children.
His sister told him Anjelica fell down stairs accidentally, Juarez said. His sister is now dead, and he said they never told anyone else what had happened.