Arrest made in 29-year-old homicide where infant was found floating in Catawba River

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Michelle Costner Rabon, 48, of Rock Hill

YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WJZY) — An arrest has been made in a 29-year-old cold case involving the death of an infant, the York County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday.

Stacy Michelle Costner Rabon, 48, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse for the death of a baby in 1992 that was found floating in the Catawba River, deputies said.

On August 12, 1992, the body of an infant was found floating on the Catawba River between Rock Hill and Fort Mill. The infant was only hours old when she died, deputies said.

The baby was found wrapped in a bedsheet, inside of a plastic shopping bag, floating in the Catawba River by a swimmer near the Highway 21 Bridge, the YCSO said. The baby had stab wounds, but the coroner’s report determined that death was the result of suffocation, and not drowning or the stabbings.

Detectives reexamined the case in October 2020 and were able to submit DNA from the bed sheet that held the baby to the York County Forensic Biology Lab for testing. Results from this DNA testing identified Rabon as a suspect and deputies were eventually able to obtain a warrant for her arrest for homicide by child abuse.

“I am very thankful for the hard work of our detectives and DNA analysts. Their dedication and ability to work cooperatively has led to the closure of a case that has haunted our community for years,” said Sheriff Kevin Tolson. “While nothing can right this terrible wrong, there is some comfort in knowing that justice will be served thanks to the men and women who worked on this case.”

In 1992, the baby was named Angel Hope, rather than Baby Jane Doe, by members of the community who also paid for her burial expenses.

Angel Hope is buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery, Section 4, in Rock Hill.

Rabon is being held at the York County Detention Center.

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