Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Lost Family
Location: Addison, Illinois
Date: January 25, 1972
Details: On the evening of January 25, 1972, the Addison Police Department received a call at around 11:30PM about an abandoned baby, just a few days old, in a blanket placed beneath a gazebo outside of Addison's village hall, which was located near the police station. Due to the cold temperatures, the police knew that they had to act quickly; when the first officer arrived at the scene, he discovered the baby beneath the gazebo. The officer and his wife took the child to a local hospital. Authorities determined that the baby had been delivered at home and that the anonymous caller was most likely the father. They believe that the father had placed the baby there, and that he wanted to make sure that the baby would be found and cared for. Two months later, the baby was adopted by June and Donald Stiles; they named her Elizabeth.
As Elizabeth grew up, she felt as if she was a misfit in her own home. She often had dreams about her birth parents. In 1996, Elizabeth's adoptive mother passed away; two months later, while cleaning out the house with a friend, Elizabeth found her adoption papers hidden in the back of the china cabinet. Although the papers did not contain any new revelations, Elizabeth was overcome with a new desire to uncover her past. She decided to use the Internet to search for her birth parents.
In October of 2000, Elizabeth sent e-mails to 50 AOL customers from Addison to get information about her birth family and abandonment. She learned from police chief Larry Stoll about how she was abandoned and that everyone wanted to adopt her. Now, Elizabeth was able to convince Stoll to reopen the investigation. Although no new leads were uncovered, Stoll wants Elizabeth's parents to know that there would be no charges filed against them, as the statute of limitations has expired. Elizabeth Bagwell, now married and with five children of her own, just wants to meet her parents and have them meet their five grandchildren.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the July 19, 2002 episode, along with The Parents of Kimberly Smith.
Similar cases include the The Hatbox Baby, the The Smoker Car Baby, and Miss Subways.
Results: Solved. In October of 2001, Elizabeth registered onto the website "Bighugs.com" which helps reunite families. Her forty-eight-year-old biological mother, Sher Althenhoff, registered onto the website six months later, and the two were soon put in contact. Sher apologized for abandoning Elizabeth. Elizabeth accepted her apology and learned that she has three half-sisters. Shockingly, she also learned that one of her half-sisters, Jennifer killed their stepfather, Robert Althenhoff, allegedly in self-defense.
One week later, Sher and her other daughters traveled to Elizabeth's home in Tennessee and they were all reunited. Elizabeth also was put in contact with her birth father; they were also reunited. Elizabeth's story was later featured on CBS's "48 Hours Investigates: Family Secrets".
For unknown reasons, Sher later asked Elizabeth to cease contact with her.
- Elizabeth Bagwell on Unsolved Archive
- Emotional reunion on '48 Hours'
- Woman learns of killing in family
- Family secrets not quite ready for primetime
- Family Secrets: Long Lost Daughter