Waukesha cold case runs into major roadblock

Posted at 8:45 PM, Jul 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-29 21:45:28-04

Efforts to solve the 'Baby Sarah' crime in Waukesha has run into a roadblock. Waukesha police fear the city's only cold case dating back to 1975 may never be solved. 

Waukesha police reopened the case two years ago hoping DNA evidence would help solve the crime. The problem is the University of North Texas' lab wasn't able to extract any DNA from her remains. 

"It's not fair to the child and it's still something that I often think about," said retired Waukesha police officer John Bacskai.  

Bacskai thought DNA evidence could finally crack the case he remembers most from his time on the force. That's because his son found 'Baby Sarah' while playing outside near Birch and Irving. 

"My son happened to look down and thought it was a baby doll in the bottom of the storm sewer," Bacskai recalled. "He came home and told me about it and I went over and checked and it's not a doll, that's a child."

Dozens of police officers responded to the scene and start of the investigation. Forty-three years later, no one has been held accountable. 

Waukesha police hoped advancements in technology since might change that so they reopened the case two years ago and exhumed 'Baby Sarah's' remains. 

"Because 'Baby Sarah's' remains were so well preserved during the embalming process, that process could have killed her DNA cells," Detective Tim Probst said. "That's why they couldn't create a DNA profile." 

Probst describes the outcome of the lab work as deflating. Probst estimates he and his partner have spent a couple hundred hours on the case. 

"As of right now we have no solid leads in this investigation," he said.  

While some might lose all hope, Bacskai is still optimistic someone will come forward. 

"This has got to be on somebody's mind," he said.  

Probst said they are looking into sending samples from 'Baby Sarah's' remains to another lab, but they worry they'll also struggle to create a DNA profile for the same reasons.