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Cold Case Arrest: Michigan Mother Antoinette Briley Charged In 2003 Murders Of Newborn Twins

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Seventeen years after a gruesome discovery in unincorporated Stickney, a cold case has been cracked open.

Antoinette Briley, 41, of Holland, Michigan, has been charged with the 2003 murders of her newborn twin sons. Briley is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. She's expected in court next week in Bridgeview.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra spoke with the Cook County Sheriff's Office on what led them to her arrest, and why it took 17 years.

The simple answer: it was DNA evidence, the same thing that cracked the Golden State Killer case.

In fact, that's what an investigator said prompted her to reopen this case.

Antoinette Briley booking photo 12-5-2020
Antoinette Briley is charged with the 2003 murders of her twin newborn sons. (Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office)

In 2003, Stickney was rocked by a gruesome murder case that everyone feared turned cold.

Two newborn boys were found dead by a Waste Management employee who was emptying trash bins in a Stickney Township alley and saw the bodies in the front lift bucket of her garbage truck; the victims so new to the world that one still had their placenta.

An autopsy revealed they were born alive and died of asphyxiation, but police said efforts to track down the mother or get anyone to talk about what happened turned cold.

The mother remained under the radar for years, until now.

"I'm happy that there's closure for the twins, there was nobody fighting for them," Cook County Sheriff's Detective Ginny Georgantas said.

"Two twins died 17 years ago. We handled the case back then. We felt a void, because we couldn't find out who did it," said Cook County Sheriff's Office Chief of Public Safety Leo Schmitz.

Let's get to how this case got cracked.

In 2018, the sheriff's office reopened the case, after the success in the capture of the Golden State Killer.

Using the same DNA technology, detectives were led Briley, who had since moved to Holland, Michigan.

And get this: it was a cigarette that confirmed the DNA link.

Detectives actually watched her smoke, waited for her to drop the cigarette, and then picked it up to swipe the DNA from it, giving them what they've needed for 17 years.

Cook County detectives then learned Briley was back in Illinois this week.

On Thursday, they pulled her over for a traffic stop in Oak Lawn, and the distraught mother was taken under arrest.

Cook County prosecutors said, when she was questioned, Briley said she was alone at her grandfather's house when she gave birth to the twins in the bathtub. She admitted both babies were crying after they were born, and said she sat there for a few minutes, panicking and thought about what she was going to do.

She told investigators she decided to go to the hospital, got out of the tub, and cleaned herself off, leaving the babies in the tub. She then placed them into a duffle bag, without wiping them off, and started driving to the hospital.

On the way, she "decided that because nobody knew, nobody would ever know," prosecutors said. So she chose a garbage can at random, took the babies out of the duffle bag, put them in the garbage can, put the bag back in her car, and went back to her grandfather's house, where she threw away the duffle bag, watched TV, and went to bed.

Back view
(Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office)

Prosecutors said Briley told police she "wishes she could take the whole day back," and instead had kept going to the hospital to make sure the babies were healthy and cared for.

Two things of note: police said Briley has a daughter. Investigators wouldn't say more than she's safe.

As for the father of the twins, investigators would only say "that's an ongoing investigation."

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