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Mother pleads guilty in 1985 cold case death of baby girl who was found and taken home by Siberian Husky

Lee Ann Daigle and Paca the dog

Lee Ann Daigle, center, recently pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter nearly 40 years after Paca, inset, found her dead and abandoned baby girl. (Aroostook County Jail and screengrab/WGME)

A dog returned home 37 years ago with a dead baby girl in her mouth. Now, the woman who left the infant to die in the cold has admitted to her role in the tragedy by way of a plea deal with prosecutors.

“I could not believe what I saw,” the dog’s co-owner, Armand Pelletier, told the Bangor Daily News in 2014. “I saw what looked like a little rag doll, but then we saw it was a frozen little baby.”

Lee Ann Daigle, 58, who hails from Lowell, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with murder in June 2022 over the death of Baby Jane Doe. The child’s body was left in a gravel pit in the woods of Frenchville, Maine. The dog, a Siberian Husky named Paca, carefully brought the girl’s tiny body back to her owners on Dec. 7, 1985.

“This is something you don’t forget,” Pelletier told the newspaper – explaining that Paca quickly returned home after being let outside that fateful day. “She kept pounding at the door’s window to get back in. She kept pounding, and after awhile, I went to go look.”

Lorraine Pelletier reportedly described the baby as a “cute little girl with reddish brown hair.”

Armand Pelletier recalled the horrific discovery in detail last year after Daigle was indicted and arrested for the girl’s murder.

“I saw the baby and I couldn’t believe it at first, I thought it was just a little doll, rubber doll that my dog had brought back to the house but the more I saw it the more I thought it was real,” he told Presque Isle, Maine-based CBS/Fox/CW affiliate WAGM. “After I realized it was a real baby, it’s when I saw the umbilical cord hanging from the baby.”

Detectives with the Maine State Police responded to the scene. Investigators were quickly able to track the path that Paca took back to the location where the child had been abandoned. Recent snowfall in the area made it easy to retrace the Husky’s steps. Based on the evidence at the scene, investigators were able to determine that Baby Jane Doe “was born and then abandoned in below zero temperatures.”

Over the past few years, MSP Detective Jay Pelletier, who works in the State Police Unsolved Homicide Unit, and who hails from the area where the baby girl was found, headed up the case. A breakthrough came, police said, with the help of “advancements in technology to include DNA and genetic genealogy,” and Daigle was identified as the suspect. She was arrested outside her home in Massachusetts without incident and waived extradition back to Maine.

“This baby was a perfect little baby,” Lorraine Pelletier told Portland, Maine-based NBC affiliate WCSH after the indictment. “I mean, she even had a little dimple. Just cute as a button.”

Police, at the time, reassured the couple that Paca had done nothing to hurt the little girl.

“I was afraid they were going to take my dog away, and they said, ‘No, we’re not gonna take your dog away. Your dog was trying to save this baby,'” Lorraine Pelletier recalled to WCSH.

Detective Pelletier credited the work of several members of law enforcement – current and retired – for their work on the case over the decades, in an MSP press release from last year.

“On or between Dec. 6 or 7, 1985, in the county of Aroostook, State of Maine, Lee Ann Daigle, formerly known as Lee Ann Guerette, date of birth 3/18/1964, did intentionally or knowingly cause the death of a human being known as Baby Jane Doe, date of birth 12/6/1985 or 12/7/1985 or did engage in conduct that manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life and which in fact caused the death of a human being known as Baby Jane Doe,” Houlton Superior Court Judge Rob Langer read aloud during the defendant’s arraignment.

Daigle pleaded not guilty to the murder charge on June 16, 2022.

On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter, according to Portland-based CBS affiliate WGME.

Her sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

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