Arrest made in homicide investigation
YATES COUNTY--The Yates County Sheriff's Department, in conjunction with the state police, arrested Kelly Anderson, 42, Tuesday, June 30 for the 2002 murder of her 16-month-old son Ethan Eslick. Anderson, who is being held in Yates County Jail pending $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond, has been charged with second degree murder and was arrested without incident in Dundee after arriving from Florida.
"New technology played a role in this, but we have been coming at it on and off for years trying to run down leads and interviews and all different things to try to find new evidence," said Ron Spike, Yates County Sheriff.
Spike stated in February of 2019 investigators were authorized through a court order to obtain saliva and dental records for individuals close to the incident. According to a release issued by the Sheriff's department "new leads" were likewise developed in 2018.
"We never stopped looking at this, and we investigated as new leads and information allowed. There have been a lot of resources devoted, both in state and out," Spike said.
Specifically, Spike singled out the State Police Special Investigations Unit based out of Troop E and the Behavioral Science Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation based out of Quantico, VA as being instrumental in bringing the investigation to a conclusion.
"I also want to mention our lead investigator Arlyn Cunningham, who went after this case with dogged determination. He simply would not let the trail go too cold," Spike said.
According to police they initially received a call that Ethan Eslick was found deceased by his mother, whose last name at the time was Axtell, in their home in Dundee on Aug. 29, 2002. According to Spike, it wasn't until six months later the Monroe County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation. While acknowledging it has taken a long time for an arrest to be made, Spike said it was both due to investigators being thorough and the nature of the case itself.
"A lot of people have worked on this case over the years, and it has taken a long time granted, but it wasn't even until the following year we even knew it was a homicide," Spike said.
District Attorney Todd Casella presented the state's case against Anderson to a grand jury, which does not allow a defense rebuttal, over the course of multiple days resulting in a sealed indictment issued June 27. While being careful to say that he doesn't want to try the case in the media, Spike said Ethan's death has weighed heavily on the department and everyone who has worked on the case.
"We never forgot about Ethan, we never stopped working on it," Spike added. "Over the years forensics and other law enforcement aspects improved, which allowed the district attorney to broaden our ability to investigate and pursue leads through search warrants."
Spike mentioned the case is now in the hands of Casella, who worked with police to ensure an arrest, and he believes justice has been served.
"We wanted to find justice for Ethan. Those three words have been around for years, and we think we have finally brought it to that point," Spike said.