Teen arrested a year after baby’s body found in cooler on Georgia road

Caroline Riley Propes

Caroline Riley Propes

More than a year after a baby’s body was discovered in a cooler on the side of a Georgia road, investigators think they have identified the child’s mother.

The break in the investigation came earlier this week after authorities in Troup County got a match on the child’s DNA through genetic testing, Troup sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Stewart Smith said.

Caroline Riley Propes, 19, of Newnan, was arrested Thursday on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the case. According to investigators, DNA evidence showed she is the biological mother of the newborn baby found Jan. 6, 2019, in a remote area of the west Georgia county.

RELATED: Baby's body found in cooler on side of Georgia road

Deputies were alerted to a zippered cooler that contained the body of a baby.

Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

The child was discovered after a passerby looked inside a zippered watermelon cooler left on the side of Boy Scout Road. Witnesses reported the cooler had been sitting there for up to a week, authorities said at the time of the discovery.

“From the moment this case was opened, I and my team of investigators were determined to bring this case to a conclusion,” Sheriff James Woodruff said Friday in a statement. “I cannot thank them enough for their determination to close a case that touched many people.”

The sheriff also thanked Innovative Forensic DNA, a Virginia-based investigative genetic genealogy company, for their help in cracking the case. Investigators sent the baby’s DNA to a different analysis company in Oklahoma, which then sent it on to Virginia for research.

“We greatly appreciate their assistance,” Woodruff said.

A medical examiner could not determine the baby’s manner of death, according to Smith. While the sheriff’s office did not release any details Friday on how the body ended up in the cooler, Smith said they were not investigating any other suspects.

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