Colorado woman pleads guilty in 1996 death of newborn girl

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LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado woman pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges in the killing of an unidentified newborn girl whose body was found in a garbage bag in a reservoir in 1996.

Jennifer Katalinich, 42, also known as Jennifer Tjornehoj, turned herself in to authorities in November, the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald reported. She was arrested in connection with the case of a newborn found dead in Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins on Aug. 24, 1996.

Katalinich pleaded guilty Monday in Fort Collins to criminally negligent homicide resulting in negligent death of an at-risk juvenile and tampering with physical evidence.

Katalinich could face up to 15 years in prison. Judge Susan Blanco has said all sentencing options are available, including prison, probation, or community corrections. Blanco will also determine if the sentences will run concurrently or consecutively.

The newborn was found wrapped in a towel in the bag with her umbilical cord still attached, authorities said. The Laramie County coroner’s office determined the baby died of suffocation.

The unidentified girl was later named “Baby Faith.”

The investigation was suspended in June 1998 after authorities failed to find any leads, It was reopened in 2006 on the 10th anniversary of the discovery of her body.

Investigators resubmitted DNA evidence in 2016 to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for updated analysis. That analysis eventually led to Katalinich.

Investigators did not announce whether Katalinich is the mother of the baby. She would have been 18 at the time the baby was born.

Blanco ordered Katalinich to undergo a screening for the Larimer County Community Corrections program and a presentence investigation. She remains out of jail on a $25,000 bond.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8.

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