Texas police search for identity of dead toddler they've nick-named 'Baby Grace'

by Carl Willis

Texas detectives have named a girl found decomposing in a box "Baby Grace," as they asked for nationwide help identifying her.

A fisherman found the girl on a marshy, grassy island near Green's Cut, about five miles west-southwest of the Galveston Causeway late Monday.

The blue Sterlite-brand utility box contained the body of a two-to-five year-old girl.

She had been wrapped in plastic bags, officials said.

Investigators said she had been dead for "several weeks," but did not know how long she had been inside the box.

Galveston County medical examiner Dr. Stephen Pustilnik said the girl had skull fractures, but no signs of sexual trauma.

He said investigators need to identify the child to find out what happened to her.

"Knowing how a person lives or dies is 90 percent of knowing who they are. We need to have identification on this child to know her family, her circumstances of her life," Pustilnik said.

Investigators said they have focused on missing person cases in both state and nationwide databases, searching for similarities.

"Someone is missing this child," Pustilnik said. "There is a grandparent who hasn't seen their grandchild in the last couple of weeks. There's a playmate who's missing their playmate and hasn't seen them for a while. There's an aunt, there's an uncle someplace -- maybe locally, maybe somewhere in this state, maybe somewhere around this nation."

Because Galveston is a tourist destination, "Baby Grace" could be from anywhere, detectives said.

"The child was found in a waterway. The child could be from Texas, from Galveston, from anywhere in the United States," Pustilnik said.

Investigators said the girl had blond hair to the middle of her back.

She was nearly three feet tall and weighed 25 to 30 pounds.

She was wearing a pink pullover top and a pink broom skirt.

Both were the Cherokee brand from Target.

She also wore white and purple tennis shoes that were children's size 8 1/2 and purchased at Wal-Mart.

Investigators said their main objective is finding out who she was.

"We will do whatever it takes to get the identity of Baby Grace, and go to the next level of this investigation," Sgt. Mike Barry said.

The FBI and Texas EquuSearch are also involved in the case.

A forensic artist has been called in to create a sketch or facial reconstruction to help in the identification process.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Galveston County Sheriff's Department.