Mother of 2 dead babies found decades ago joins Alford’s request

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FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Greenville County Jail shows Brook Graham. Brook Graham accused in the case of two dead children found decades ago in South Carolina, including a girl who later became known as “Julie Valentine”, filed Alford’s application for three counts on Thursday, May 12, 2022 .. (Greenville County Jail via AP, Archive)

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A woman accused in the case of two dead babies found decades ago in South Carolina, including a girl who later became known as “Julie Valentine”, has filed Alford’s plea for three counts.

Brook Graham filed Thursday for two counts of unlawful conduct of a child and one count of improper disposal of human remains, the media reported. The appeal means she maintains her innocence but acknowledges that the state has sufficient evidence to find her guilty of the charges.

The charges stem from the discovery of the remains of a boy in the woods in 1989 and those of a girl the following year, who came to be known in Greenville County, South Carolina, as Julie Valentine. The municipality is in the northeast of the state.

The girl’s tiny body was discovered the day before Valentine’s Day in 1990. Authorities say a man picking wildflowers for his wife found a vacuum cleaner box holding a black-haired baby weighing 5 pounds.

Greenville Police investigators tracked down the vacuum cleaner buyers. They said that two names could not be ruled out and that Graham’s was one of them. However, they could not open a case until former police chief Ken Miller ordered DNA testing, which authorities said had determined that Graham was the biological mother of both babies.

When tests on the girl came back, it was determined that the baby was half Vietnamese and half European, according to a lawyer at the law firm. That office added that police went back to the file and saw where the defendant and her Vietnamese boyfriend bought the type of vacuum box the baby was left in.

“Greenville County also located a boy in April 1989 in a garbage bag left in a wooded area the previous year,” the attorney’s office said in a statement.

The lawyers’ office said the child’s father and the woman’s sister never knew Graham was pregnant.

Police announced Graham’s arrest in April 2019.

“The state, under the facts, which we were able to investigate with law enforcement, only allowed us to charge her with unlawful negligence and desecration of human remains. She had initially been charged with murder, and we dismissed those cases because no medical examiner could prove how the children actually died and if in fact they were actually living at the time of birth,” said attorney W. Walter Wilkins.

Wilkins added that because of the delay in finding the bodies and their state of decomposition, medical experts and technology could not determine whether or not the children were “alive at birth.”

Graham is free on bail until a pre-sentence investigation is completed. A sentence break was not immediately available.

His attorney David Braghirol told The State on Friday that the full story was not told, but would come out in a pre-sentence report conducted by a parole officer. He said there is no doubt that Graham is the mother, but added that the two babies were stillborn.

Wilkins called the case very unique and said of the final charges: “Sadly, this is the best evidence that we have to get justice for these two children who were abandoned 30 years ago. We are happy to have this case moving in the right direction and we will be gearing up and preparing for sentencing.”

In the years since, Julie Valentine has become a symbol for child abuse prevention in Greenville County, commemorated with a sculpture in a local park and included in the name of an organization that works with abuse survivors.

Julie Valentine is buried in a cemetery where the headstone says “Baby Jane Doe” and below it, “Julie Valentine February 1990”.

Terry Christy, one of the original investigators, told The State that the woman’s appeal does not bring him any closure. He often thinks of the girl and sometimes passes by her grave when he visits the graves of relatives in the same cemetery. His wife, Julianna, was a victim witness coordinator who had worked years ago looking to identify the girl and for whom Julie Valentine was named.

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