Man waits for years before DNA confirms he is father of dead child

A Baton Rouge man who long claimed he was the father of an infant girl found dead in the back of a garbage truck more than a decade ago said Friday the two-year wait for DNA results was excruciating.

“I always felt in my heart that I was the father to the child ... but this long wait has been torturous,” Matthew Crane, 30, acknowledged in an interview. “Finally, knowing the results, I can proceed with appropriate actions and, hopefully, find closure in the process.”

The child is buried at Greenoaks Memorial Park as Christine Noel Love, the name given by a private group called Threads of Love, which provided a funeral in December 2002 at Babyland, an array of infant graves at the cemetery.

Crane said he would like to give his child the name Cecilia Noelle Crane but would not move the grave. He also wants to make a victim impact statement in the criminal case of JoAnn King, the child’s mother and his former girlfriend.

King, 30, of Baton Rouge, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of “baby Jane Doe” and faces a Feb. 10 trial date. She is free on bond.

In a paternity petition filed in January 2013 in East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court, Crane says he did not learn King had given birth in December 2002 until she was arrested in January 2012 and charged with murder.

Crane and King submitted DNA samples last fall to the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, which forwarded the samples to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. District Attorney Hillar Moore III confirmed Friday that the results proved Crane to be the child’s biological father.

Crane, who described this as a “very difficult time” for his family and said he hopes its privacy will be respected, conceded that his only recourse is to let the justice system run its course.

“In either scenario the end is not without tragedy. However, these (test) results being of a personal nature, I want justice THAT much more,” he said in an email.

King faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Her court-appointed attorney, Fred Kroenke, said Friday that King is “totally and completely remorseful and incredibly sad.” He has said previously she wants to atone “more than anything else in the world.”

Baton Rouge police have said King admitted on Jan. 26, 2012, to killing the baby in December 2002 by throwing the infant into a trash bin. BFI garbage truck workers discovered the baby at 8:40 a.m. Dec. 6, 2002, dangling from a ripped garbage bag in the back of the truck, which was in the 2200 block of Iberia Street.

The workers found the baby just before being passed through the garbage compactor.

The baby, who probably had been born the day before, died from a blow to the head, probably once she was in the truck, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office has said.

Louisiana has a safe haven law, which provides a safe and legal last resort to abandonment of a baby.

The Legislature passed a law in 2000 allowing parents to leave newborns at hospitals, and police and fire stations up to 30 days after birth without being prosecuted. Last year, state lawmakers raised the number of days to 60.

More information about the safe haven law is available by calling (800) 244-5373.