Illinois baby found dead in 1972, trial begins

An Illinois man will be tried for murder Monday, 44 years after a child in his care was found dead on a toy motorcycle.

According to the Washington Post, Gary Warwick was watching his girlfriend’s son in Belleville when he said he found 1-year-old Joey Abernathy unconscious shortly after midnight Dec. 30, 1972.

¬†Abernathy was reportedly hospitalized weeks earlier with bruises to his face and dog bites on his ears. After an autopsy, Abernathy was pronounced dead of a laceration to his liver caused by blunt force trauma to the stomach. Warwick was charged with the boy’s murder, but the case was dismissed in 1974 for unclear reasons.

As reported by USA TODAY,  a court note made reference to Warwick having an eye disease that made him blind. However, he was proven to not be blind and went on to coach high school softball.

Abernathy’s mother, Cathie Altman, said never understood why the case was dismissed.

“After Joey’s death, I just went into a deep, dark hole,” she said. “I promised myself many years ago before I left this Earth, I would do everything I could to see that justice happens.”

She asked the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office to reopen the case, and Warwick, 64, was arrested again.