Under a waning afternoon sun Thursday at St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx, Baby Hope finally got her real name back.
Working quickly with a rubber stencil and high-pressure sandblasting equipment, stonecutters with Crown Monument Co. carved the name of Anjelica Castillo on the black granite headstone that had marked the final resting place of the child.
Anjelica's sexually abused and malnourished body was found in a picnic cooler, dumped like trash along the Henry Hudson Parkway, in July 1991, setting off a two-decade-long investigation that culminated last month with the arrest of a relative in her murder. The investigation also uncovered the real name of the child whose birth date was April 24, 1987.
Officers with the 34th Precinct had spearheaded the drive to get her buried when the body was found, and the stone was marked only with the name Baby Hope, the date her body was discovered, and the words "Because We Care."
Friday, a special group of NYPD officers and detectives, both retired and active duty, will assemble at the Bronx grave for the unveiling of the tombstone, much like they did in July 1993 for the burial.
The cutting of Anjelica's name into the headstone was done by Richard Vargas, one of Crown Monument's veteran stonecutters. Wearing a tightfitting hood and special earmuffs to muffle the sound and guard against sand particles, Vargas cut the letters for the inscription, which had been cut into the stencil affixed to the stone. It takes about 120 pounds per square inch of pressure to do the job, said a spokesman for Crown.
The three-line inscription written by detectives read:
Identified In 2013 As
Born April 24, 1987
It took Vargas about 10 minutes to do the sandblasting. White paint was then sprayed into the letters etched in the stone, to contrast with the marble.
Asked how he felt about being a part of this moment, Vargas smiled and put it simply: "Pretty good."