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Fairfield County Infant's Killer Arrested 35 Years After Crime, Police Say

Janita Philips
Janita Philips Photo Credit: Greenwich Police Deparment

After 35 years of digging for information into the death of a newborn infant found inside a garbage truck after being strangled, police in Fairfield County have made an arrest.

The boy was found dead on On May 16, 1986, inside a sanitation truck that had just emptied a dumpster at the apartment building located at 27 Havemeyer Place in Greenwich, said Capt. Mark Zuccerella, of the Greenwich Police.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was strangulation and ruled the case a homicide, police said.

It was determined that the child was born alive and that he was killed soon after birth.

Greenwich Police detectives at the crime scene collected multiple pieces of evidence, including items soaked with blood.

Numerous interviews were conducted with residents of the apartment building. 

Investigation at the time, and in the subsequent years, was unable to positively identify the killer of the child, Zuccerella said. 

In 2020, the Greenwich Police Cold Case Unit employed newly available forensic testing to link physical evidence found at the scene to the mother of the deceased child. 

Additional investigation, including assistance from law enforcement officials in Seminole County, Florida, confirmed the identity of the parent of the deceased child as Janita Philips, a resident of 27 Havemeyer Place at the time of the infant’s death, police said. 

In September, Greenwich Police Detectives traveled to Florida, and with assistance from detectives from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office conducted an interview of Philips. 

During the interview, and in a written statement, Philips admitted that she was the mother of the child and that she caused his death, Zuccerella said.

Additional DNA testing further confirmed that Philips was the mother of the deceased child.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Greenwich Police detectives obtained an arrest warrant from the Superior Court in Stamford for Philips, age 62, of Lake Mary, for the charge of murder.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Philips surrendered at Greenwich Police Headquarters where she was arrested, processed, and then transported to court for same-day arraignment on the single count of murder.

“We are grateful that justice is finally being obtained for this infant child of our community," said Greenwich Deputy Chief Robert Berry. "The investigation of his tragic death has taken many long years, but he has always been remembered and we hope this conclusion will bring him peace and recognition."

Philips is being held on a $50,000 bail. 

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