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"Baby Hope" Update: Conrado Juarez, man charged in 1991 murder of 4-year-old cousin, claims confession was coerced, report says

Conrado Juarez, 52, is arraigned Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at Manhattan Criminal Court for the alleged murder of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed "Baby Hope", in New York.
Pool,AP Photo/John Minchillo
Conrado Juarez, 52, is arraigned Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at Manhattan Criminal Court for the alleged murder of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed "Baby Hope", in New York.
Conrado Juarez, 52, is arraigned Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at Manhattan Criminal Court for the alleged murder of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo.
Pool, AP Photo/John Minchillo

(CBS) NEW YORK - Conrado Juarez, the man who police say confessed to sexually assaulting and killing the little girl as known as "Baby Hope," said in an interview from prison Wednesday with The New York Times that he was coerced by detectives into providing a false confession.

"They insisted and insisted," Juárez reportedly told the paper about the teams of detectives who took turns grilling him. "They would say, 'You killed her!' So after a while and after so much pressure, I accepted it and said what they wanted."

The paper reports Juarez, 52, now denies abusing and killing 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, but admits helping dispose of her body.

Authorities say Anjelica was sexually assaulted, smothered and stuffed inside a cooler. Her body was dumped along the Henry Hudson Parkway in July of 1991.

The tragic story was made all the more heartbreaking when no one came forward to identify the little girl. No family member ever publicly grieved for her and no one ever claimed her body.

But police got a break in the cold case over this summer. An anonymous tip led investigators to the girl's mother and ultimately to the arrest of their family member, 52-year-old Conrado Juarez, on Saturday, police said.

Juarez is chargedwith felony murder. He has pleaded not guilty, however he reportedly acknowledges in the interview with The Times that he did confess to the crime during police interrogations.

"I told the police that I put a pillow over her face and killed her," Juarez reportedly told the paper. "But it wasn't like that."

According to the paper, he now claims that his sister called him one day on his cellphone to say that Anjelica had been running and had fallen down the stairs to her death.

For Juarez's account to be accurate, the New York Times says, he would have to have been one of fewer than 3 percent of people in the United States who had a mobile telephone in 1991.

In explaining why he allegedly helped his sister get rid of Angelica's body, he reportedly told the paper he was "afraid."

"My mind closed. Thinking about it now, I realize I should have called the police."

Juarez's sister has since died.

Margarita Castillo, the mother of Anjelica, said in interview with CBS New York this week that she was separated from her husband at the time of Anjelica's disappearance. She reportedly had taken Anjelica and another daughter to see their father and left them there for several days.

Castillo told the station that when she returned to pick up her daughters, they were not there.

She reportedly assumed her children were being taken care of by family members. It was not until several years later that she says she got a call from Juarez who said he was raising her daughters and wanted money.

But Castillo said when she showed up at his home, he only had one of the girls and said he did not know anything about Anjelica, CBS New York reported. She said fear and not knowing English kept her from going to police.

In the interview with The New York Times, Juarez provided a slightly different account as to how he and his sister came to obtain Anjelica and her sister.

According to the paper, he says Anjelica's mother seemed to no longer be able to care for her daughters, and gave them away.

He told the Times that arrangements were made at a later date for Anjelica's sister to be returned to her mother and that is when the mother learned Anjelica had died four years earlier.

"I'm the one who told her," Juarez reportedly told the paper. "I told her, 'She is no longer with us,' and that was that. She did not ask a lot of questions."

He reportedly did not go into details about disposing of the child's body.

Juarez is now awaiting trial at Rikers Island prison. He is reportedly in protective custody.

The Times reports a spokesman for the NYPD said Juarez's confession to the crime was videotaped and took place in the presence of an assistant district attorney.

Complete coverage of "Baby Hope" on Crimesider