Midstate Mysteries: The murder of Baby Allison - abc27 WHTM

Midstate Mysteries: The murder of Baby Allison

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When Lester Cramer heard about a newborn baby that was found dead behind an Amish schoolhouse in Strasburg Township in December 2003, he knew he had to do something to help.

"There's no reason whatsoever to harm a child in any way," Cramer said.

As a father and grandfather, something about the little girl's story just got to him.

"Somebody had cut her throat, then put her in a trash barrel," he recalls. "It was just beyond my imagination how anybody could do that."

Cramer named the baby "Allison" and arranged for her to be buried next to his parents at the Conestoga Memorial Gardens.

In January 2004, she was laid to rest by a group of people who never met her, but who loved her nonetheless.

Cramer's daughter bought the baby a warm, pink outfit and buried her with toys and other personal items.

"She was very pretty," Cramer said. "She was just a little tyke - normal size for a newborn. But she was very pretty. She looked basically like she was just sleeping. You wanted to pick her up."

As the community grieved for the innocent life lost, investigators tried desperately to find the baby's mother.

Trooper Jerry Sauers has been on the case since the beginning and admits he still has no idea who gave birth to Allison or who killed her.

Over the years, Sauers has received numerous tips and has ruled out dozens of potential mothers.

"The only thing I know with certainty is this was a tragedy that didn't have to happen," Sauers said.

Sauers said the baby was found by a group of Amish children who had gone outside to burn trash behind the schoolhouse.

"When they set it on fire, the plastic bag started to melt away and the children noticed what at first they thought was a doll," he said.

Sauers said Allison was white, about seven pounds, full-term and healthy. And he said detailed DNA testing showed investigators that her mother was most likely not of the Plain sect, meaning Old Order Mennonite or Amish.

Although, Sauers believes whoever did this likely lived near the schoolhouse.

"Somebody probably knew that area because I don't think you would randomly find that burn barrel," he said.

He also believes he knows where the baby was born. Around that same time, a clerk at the Turkey Hill in Strasburg reported finding a thick pool of blood in a bathroom trash can. But the evidence was incinerated before police could get to it.

"Interviewing that clerk and what he described, it would be a logical assumption to believe the child was born in that bathroom at the Turkey Hill," Sauers said.

Cramer said he often thinks about the little girl he named and buried. He wonders about the kind of young lady she could have become.

"She'd be 10 years old, in school now," Cramer said. "I still have faith that the police will find these people."

He prays that one day someone will pay for Allison's violent and unnecessary death.

"She deserves that," he said. "She deserves to have that final peace."

Anyone with information about Allison's parents or her killer is urged to contact Trooper Sauers at the State Police Lancaster Barracks at 717-299-7656.


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