A Massachusetts woman has been charged with murder in the death of an unnamed baby who was born and subsequently abandoned at a Frenchville gravel pit in subzero temperatures more than 36 years ago.

On Monday, 58-year-old Lee Ann Daigle of Lowell, Massachusetts, was arrested after DNA testing determined that she was the mother of the child, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss said.

Daigle was indicted by an Aroostook County grand jury on one count of murder. 

The arrest marks a major development in a 36-year-old cold case that has been a mystery in northern Aroostook County ever since. 

In the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 7, 1985, a woman — now thought to be Daigle — delivered a full-term baby girl on a gravel pit access road near the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Pelletier Avenue in Frenchville. The woman then drove — or was driven — away, leaving the infant behind as temperatures dipped well below zero.

The baby, who has become known as Baby Jane Doe, was later discovered by a dog, a Siberian Husky named Paca, who carried her body to its owners’ home less than a quarter mile away.

After reconstructing the dog’s path, investigators were able to determine that the baby had been born and then abandoned at the gravel pit in subzero temperatures. 

Daigle on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the murder charge during her first court appearance, which she made remotely from the Aroostook County Jail before District Court Judge Robert Langner.

She agreed to be held without bail until a hearing can be set to determine whether there are any conditions under which she can be released, since she does not live in Maine.

She has not yet been appointed an attorney on the murder charge. 

She was represented at Tuesday’s hearing by attorney Jeffrey Pickering of Houlton.

Daigle’s next court appearance was set for 11 a.m. Aug. 8 in Fort Kent District Court. If convicted, she faces between 25 years and life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.