Charges Filed in 2017 Death of Baby in Markham, a Crime That Forever Changed Those Trying to Solve It

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The death of 1-year-old Ana Marie Townsend shocked the Chicago area in 2017, and after new charges were filed in the case, those tasked with trying to solve it say they were forever changed by the experience.

“This has been a sad event through the years- as this child was murdered,” said Markham Police Chief Jack Genius.

In the summer of 2017, there was a devastating fire at a vacant home on Hamlin Avenue in suburban Markham. Inside, firefighters would find the remains of a 1-year-old girl in the attic.

“The fire department put out the fire and when they were going into the house to check for arson – they found the body of an infant,” Genius said.

Authorities determined the girl didn’t die from the fire.

No parents would ever come forward to claim the girl, and the case remained unsolved for years, but this week, a significant development finally occurred in the case.

The girl’s mother, Melody Townsend, was arrested in California and brought back to Illinois Tuesday to face felony charges in connection with the case.

“The charges we are bringing against her are felony child endangerment and concealing and aiding a fugitive,” said Detective Sgt. Jessie Jones.

One of people who making sure Ana’s not forgotten has been crisis responder and community activist Andrew Holmes. Holmes was moved by the story, taking Ana Marie’s photo door-to-door in an effort to locate her parents.

“It still hurts,” he said. “I still go to the home and put teddy bears for her birthday.”

The police chief says this case weighs on the hearts of so many, and the department will continue working to find the girl’s killer.

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