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The boy lived for about two hours before freezing and bleeding to death, the coroner found. The crime would become infamous in Sioux Falls, only the second homicide in the small city in 1981 and one of only a handful of cold cases that would remain unsolved for years, frustrating detectives as all the leads dried up.
In the immediate aftermath of the baby’s death, the community mourned him as if he were its own child, the Argus Leader reported in 1981. They gave him a funeral and a casket, decorated with carnations and a pin on his pajamas that said “You are loved.” They even gave him toys, a stuffed black poodle and a tiny teddy bear, which would be buried with the child at a ceremony attended by dozens, including Litz.
Police arrested the baby’s biological mother, Theresa Bentaas, 57, on Friday after DNA and genetic genealogy identified her as the suspect, Detective Michael Webb said at a news conference.
She was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter and booked on 0,000 bail.
She had the baby alone in her apartment, she told police, before driving to the South Sycamore Avenue ditch.
She said she had seen the news coverage in 1981 about the baby’s funeral, attended by about 50 strangers, but that she did not want to believe that was her baby.
Litz would return to the grave year after year, never shaking the feeling that "somebody got away with murder,” he told the Argus Leader.
But investigators didn’t want to believe it, as they spent years continuing to hunt for the person who left the baby to die.
In this case, Baby Andrew’s apparent family members were all from Sioux Falls, Webb said. The news of Bentaas’s arrest came as a relief to Litz, who had spent years agonizing over memories of the dead baby lying in the ditch.She and her husband now have two living adult children, the Argus Leader reported. About 10 years ago, we started taking a new look at this case to see what we could do, given advancement in technology and DNA.” Back in 1981, Webb said police “ran out of leads very quickly." Women identified as possible suspects by tipsters either turned out to be still pregnant, or they answered the door with a baby in their arms, easily ruling them out as culprits.“I know it sounds cliche, but we don’t quit on these,” Webb said. Despite continued media attention on the case over the years, it wasn’t until 2009 that the investigation really took a turn.In the blanket, he found a baby — with tears frozen on his cheeks. “To see a child thrown away like that — how could someone do that?By the time Litz found him, the baby had been lying in the ditch for roughly 24 hours, the coroner would soon rule. ” Litz told the Argus Leader as the 35th anniversary of the crime neared, when police still had no idea who had left the baby in the ditch.