By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Pinedale woman will be back in Michigan within the next month to face charges in a 25-year-old cold case involving a baby’s death, the Mackinac County, Michigan sheriff told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
Mackinac County Sheriff Edward Wilk said the suspect in the case waived her right to an extradition hearing in Sublette County late last week.
“We have 30 days to get her transported back here to Michigan, where she will then be arraigned,” Wilk said. “Right now, we’re trying to work out how that will be done, whether it’s us coming out to Wyoming to bring her back or hiring a company that does prisoner transports like this.”
The 58-year-old woman was arrested July 12 after she was interviewed by Mackinac County investigators in Pinedale and confirmed she was the mother of “Baby Garnet,” who was found June 26, 1997 by a worker in a Garnet Lake Campground septic pit in Michigan, according to sheriff’s officials.
It was not clear if the baby girl was dead prior to being placed in the septic pit. The Detroit News reported that the baby’s body was too decomposed to be identified or to reveal details such as the child’s race.
Wilk has not revealed the suspect’s identity, but the only 58-year-old woman being held at the Sublette County Detention Center as of Tuesday was Nancy Ann Gerwatowski, who was listed as being a “fugitive from justice.”
Gerwatowski was arrested on July 12 and has been held at the detention center ever since, according to jail records.
25 Years of Investigation
Investigators attempted to solve the case when Baby Garnet was first discovered, but they could not confirm her identity and the case went cold, Cowboy State Daily previously reported.
However, in 2017, county and state police reopened the case and ultimately decided to use forensic genetic genealogy in hopes of identifying the girl.
A genealogist traced the baby’s blood lines and found the name of the woman who was likely her mother, who had since moved from the Garnet area to Wyoming in the 25 years that had passed.
Wilk said earlier this month that he did not know when exactly the woman moved to the Pinedale area, but he said he believed she left the Garnet community not long after the baby’s death.
He also noted at the time that the girl’s father, siblings and other family members have been identified. He hopes the family will receive closure from knowing what happened to Baby Garnet.
According to sheriff’s officials, the woman provided additional comments that provided probable cause for police to arrest her for murder.
News outlet MLive reported that forensics tests conducted on the baby showed that she had gestated for between 38 and 40 weeks, indicating the mother carried her to full term.
The outlet also reported that police at the time believed the girl was placed in the outhouse as early as June 1, 1997, and that her parents likely lived in the region.
The community raised nearly $1,000 to bury the girl in a white casket at Hudson Township, Michigan Cemetery. About 40 people attended Baby Garnet’s funeral, bringing flowers to the memorial service.
“We’re a county of about 11,000 people and that township has a couple hundred people, so when something like that happens around here, people take notice,” Wilk said earlier this month. “Even though the case isn’t closed, we’re a step closer to bringing the community closure.”