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Michigan woman faces murder charges in cold case killings of newborn twins

Detectives used the new practice of genetic genealogy to link the defendant to babies' bodies found in an Illinois garbage truck in 2003.

A Michigan woman was arrested last week in the cold case killings of her twin newborn sons 17 years after their bodies were found in an Illinois garbage truck, authorities said Saturday.

The woman, Antoinette Briley, faces two counts of first-degree murder after detectives with the Cook County Sheriff's Office used genetic genealogy to track down the babies' mother, Public Safety Chief Leo Schmitz told reporters.

Briley, 41, of Holland, Michigan, was arrested Thursday night after a traffic stop in Oak Lawn, about 17 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, Schmitz said.

During an interview with detectives, he said, "she admitted to her involvement in the birth death, disposal of the two infants."

Schmitz said the newborns' bodies were discovered June 6, 2003, by a garbage truck operator in Stickney Township, an unincorporated community southwest of Chicago. He said she found them in the truck's front bucket.

An autopsy concluded that they had been asphyxiated, he said.

Despite what Schmitz described as a thorough investigation 17 years ago, the case remained unsolved until it was re-assessed after the arrest in 2018 of Joseph DeAngelo, known as the Golden State Killer, who was connected to a series of rapes and murders in California in the 1970s and '80s. DeAngelo was linked to those crimes using genetic genealogy, which matches DNA evidence with publicly available DNA profiles.

After DeAngelo's arrest, Cook County Sheriff's Det. Ginny Georgantas took a fresh look at the case of the newborns and began working with Parabon NanoLabs, an investigative genetic genealogy company.

Investigators identified Briley as the newborns' mother, Schmitz said, and obtained DNA from her "discarded items" in Michigan. The DNA matched the children's DNA, he said.

"I'm happy there's closure for the twins," Georgantas told reporters. "There was nobody fighting for them."

It wasn't immediately clear whether Briley has a lawyer. Schmitz said she was scheduled to appear at a bond hearing Saturday.

Schmitz said Briley has family connections to Illinois.