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Donations for cold case infants' DNA testing exceed goal

Goodhue County Sheriff's Office put out a call Aug. 3 to raise $10,000 to test the DNA of two infants who had been found on local shores.

RED WING -- The unsolved deaths of three infants were the first topic of discussion during the Tuesday, Sept. 1, Goodhue County Board meeting.

Anonymous donors gave $12,550 for the funds needed to test the infants’ DNA.

According to a report by Chief Deputy Jeremy Lerfald, the first infant was found in 1999 by a fisherman in Red Wing. The baby girl had been wrapped in a towel and was floating in the water. In 2003, a baby boy was found washed ashore on Lake Pepin. Eventually, investigators learned through a DNA test that these two infants were related by at least one parent.

Then, in 2007, a newborn baby girl was discovered in the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Marina. Lerfald’s report states that this infant was unrelated to the first two, “but the details are eerily the same.”

On Aug. 3, 2020, the sheriff’s office announced it hoped to raise $10,000 to fund DNA genealogy investigations through the Parabon Snapshot DNA Analysis. Investigation costs can reach up to $5,000.

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The department pledged to cover the costs of testing the first infant’s DNA, but asked for help to cover the expenses of the second and third babies'.

County Commissioner Linda Flanders said during the meeting, “as tragic as it is that we have three infants that died along the riverbanks I was very warm hearted by the idea that within eight days that the sheriff’s department had raised even more money than they had requested.”

Sheriff Marty Kelly told the board that the department had not given up on these cases.

“We knew technology increased dramatically in 21 years, particularly with DNA. And this opportunity came along for us and we jumped on it, obviously. We won’t stop investigating this.”

Kelly went on to report that Parabon Snapshot DNA Analysis results for the first infant found some potential familial links and the department is working to use those leads.

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