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Sketches of dead babies released

Authorities on Thursday released forensic images of three infants found dead in 1999, 2003 and 2007 along the Mississippi River in Goodhue County.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created the composite renderings, which represent how the babies might have appeared soon after birth.

Forensic artists created the images using photos local authorities took of the babies.

"This definitely adds a touch of life to the children," said Capt. Pat Thompson of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office. "I'm hoping the public's reaction is a positive one. We're trying to do everything in our power and trying to think outside the box on solving this case."

The sheriff's department is still actively investigating all three cases and has developed about 100 leads to date.

Thompson said authorities are currently working on a "promising" lead. He confirmed that officers spoke with a woman who denied any involvement in the three cases.

Authorities took a DNA sample from the woman -- who Thompson said is familiar with the Goodhue County area -- and are awaiting test results.

"We have good information that needs to be examined further," Thompson said.

Investigators are preparing for a flood of calls following release of the images.

Thompson said it's important to note the clothing is not connected with the investigation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is required to clothe children depicted in composites.

Sheriff Dean Albers called the images emotional. He hopes getting them out in the public eye will spark a memory that produces a call to his investigators.

"The photos make you stop what you're doing and look at them," Albers said. "It makes you reflect a lot.

"Now you can look at those pictures and see that these were little babies, human babies. We still need that closure."

It will be nine years this November since a baby girl was spotted floating in the water near Bay Point Park by two fishermen.

Four years later in 2003, a group of teenagers discovered a newborn boy along the shoreline in Old Frontenac.

In 2007, two workers at Prairie Island marina found the body of a baby girl.

Authorities said last summer there is a very high probability the infants found in 1999 and 2003 had the same mother. There is a more than 90 percent chance they are Caucasian, authorities said.

The third baby -- possibly American Indian -- is probably not related to the first two, according to the test results.

Thompson said his investigators have often felt frustrated that the cases are still unsolved.

The images, he said, have given the department a renewed sense of optimism.

"It brought the children to life for us," Thompson said. "Maybe this will give us another breath to keep going with this investigation."