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Woman sentenced in baby girl's death 38 years after dog found body and carried her back to its home

Arrest made 37 years after Maine baby's death
Arrest made 37 years after newborn found dead in Maine 01:12

A Massachusetts woman who recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her newborn daughter almost 40 years ago has been sentenced to six years in prison. 

Lee Ann Daigle, 58, of Lowell, Massachusetts, admitted in court to abandoning the newborn, Baby Jane Doe, to die in a gravel pit in northern Maine on a cold winter day in 1985. The baby's body was discovered by a Siberian Husky that found it in the gravel pit and carried it to a family's front lawn in Frenchville, near the Canadian border. 

"I could not believe what I saw. I saw what looked like a little rag doll, but then we saw it was a frozen little baby," the dog's owner,  Armand Pelletier, told the Bangor Daily News in 2014.

Police were notified of the discovery on Dec. 7, 1985, and followed the Husky's path from the lawn back to a gravel pit, where they determined the baby had been born and abandoned in sub-zero temperatures. But Daigle, whose name was Lee Ann Guerrette at the time, was not identified or arrested in connection with the crime until last summer, when authorities said technological advancements allowed them to move the investigation forward and finally solve the case. She was originally indicted in June 2022 on a murder charge.

Lee Ann Daigle was arrested in 2022 and charged with murder in the death of her newborn decades earlier. Aroostook County Court House

Daigle gave a tearful apology in court on Tuesday, saying she panicked instead of seeking help.

"I could've done more. I should've done more," she told the judge.

The death of Baby Jane Doe went unsolved for years until a DNA match provided a break in the case, leading to Daigle's indictment last year. In the intervening years, Daigle had raised two daughters, both of whom testified at her sentencing.

She was originally charged with depraved indifference murder, but she pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The judge sentenced her to 16 years in prison but suspended most of the sentence.

Today, Maine has a law that allows parents to surrender a child less than 31 days old to approved safe haven providers, including law enforcement officers, medical service providers and hospitals.

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