Lee Ann Daigle appearing in Houlton Superior Court in April. On Tuesday she was sentenced to 16 years in prison, with all but six suspended, for the 1985 death of her infant Baby Jane Doe. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — Justice Stephen Nelson sentenced Caribou native Lee Ann (Guerette) Daigle on Tuesday to 16 years, all but six suspended, with three years probation in the 1985 death of her abandoned newborn infant, Baby Jane Doe.

In April, Daigle  pleaded guilty to criminal negligence manslaughter.

DNA evidence linked Daigle to Baby Jane Doe last year. Armand and Lorraine Pelletier discovered the naked, bloody body of a baby girl on the lawn of their Frenchville home in 1985, after their dog carried it from a nearby gravel pit.

The case went unsolved until DNA linked the baby to Daigle last year. Maine State Police arrested the 59-year-old Massachusetts woman in June 2022, after a grand jury indicted her on one count of intentional, knowing or depraved murder.

“She essentially discarded and dumped the baby in the snowbank. It was below freezing, and there can be no real claim there was not certainty that such action would in fact result in the death of that baby,” said Nelson in Houlton Superior Court.

The victim in this case was the defendant’s first daughter of three, and since this was a newborn there was no more fragile or helpless victim one could envision, Nelson said.

Nelson said the lack of remorse figured into his decision.

“For 37 years Miss Daigle did not step forward or take responsibility even when it was clear that she was the target of the investigation and would be a near certainty that should would be identified by DNA evidence,” Nelson said.

In Houlton Superior Court an emotional Daigle sobbed when her daughters talked about their love for their mother. Daigle told the judge family means everything to her and she lives with the thoughts of Baby Jane Doe’s death every day.

“I enjoyed motherhood and not a day goes by that I wondered if I could have raised another,” she said tearfully. “If I would have known she was alive. Family is the forefront of my life. I made a big mistake. I could have done more, I should have done more.”

Still, Nelson questioned Daigle’s proclamations of remorse referring to previous testimony to law enforcement.

When the state police first interviewed Daigle at her Massachusetts home in 2022, she denied having been pregnant or living in the area at the time of Baby Jane’s death, and refused to give a DNA sample for comparison. When police told her that DNA identified her as Baby Jane’s mother, Daigle admitted to delivering the infant in the gravel pit, Nelson said.

“Have you ever thought about it since? Answer, no, no, no three times. You never thought about it, you never gave it any other consideration, and so that is inconsistent with a claim that this has been on someone’s mind and there has been suffering in silence with this secret for quite some time,” Nelson said.

Additionally, Nelson said it appeared that Daigle thought about the baby as an “it as compared to her.”

During the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Russell displayed an airbrushed portrait of Baby Jane Doe while listing all she missed in life.

Today, she would have been 38. If she had been allowed to live, she would have been kissed, loved, had a childhood, gone to school, had birthday parties, and had friends, Russell said. If she had been allowed to live, she would have had photos that were not crime scenes from an autopsy. Instead, she lived for 38 years in an unmarked grave.

The law enforcement officials who helped to solve the case over the years were all present in the court, as well as the Pelletiers, whose Siberian Husky, Paca, found the baby’s body in the gravel pit in 1985.

Several members of Daigle’s family were also present and detailed Daigle’s life, her career as a top-secret clearance security officer and how she always cared for her children and other family members.

“I would note that the evidence of the wonderful life she has given her other two daughters is a mitigating factor; however, it puts into stark contrast the opportunities that her actions took away from her first baby,” Nelson said.  

Daigle was ordered to start serving her sentence immediately and remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli is a reporter covering the Houlton area. Over the years, she has covered crime, investigations, health, politics and local government, writing for the Washington Post, the LA...