21 years later, NC detectives close case of ‘Baby Michael’

21 years later, NC detectives close case of ‘Baby Michael’
Deborah Riddle O’Conner (Source: Official photo via WNCN)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) - On March 3, 1999, a baby less than 24 hours old was found beaten to death in a plastic bag along Canady Pond Road in southern Cumberland County.

Then Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler pleaded for help finding the parents of “Baby Michael.”

No one came forward.

But 21 years later, DNA evidence helped lead detectives to 54-year-old Deborah Riddle O’Conner.

Cumberland County detectives drove to Burke County to interview O’Conner – who admitted to being Baby Michael’s mother, Sheriff Ennis Wright said.

O’Conner has been charged with first-degree murder and booked into the Cumberland County Detention Center.

She’s being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Friday at 2:30 p.m.

In 1999, a soldier driving along Canady Pond Road spotted the bag and thought a doll was inside.

Baby Michael still had his umbilical cord attached when his body was found.

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office detectives determined the child died of blunt force trauma.

When no one came forward as the boy’s parents, dubbed him “Baby Michael,” after the Patron Saint of Law Enforcement Officers.

A funeral service was held March 30, 1999, at Hair’s Chapel Free Will Holiness Church on Duck Pond Road.

Baby Michael was buried in the church cemetery.

Bode Technology used the boy’s DNA to give detectives a family line – which led them to O’Conner.

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