Julie Valentine’s mother won’t serve prison time for deaths of 2 babies

Brooke Graham was sentenced decades after the bodies of two babies were found in the woods in Greenville County.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 3:01 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2023 at 5:29 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - More than 30 years after baby Julie Valentine was abandoned in a vacuum cleaner box in Greenville, her mother has been sentenced.

Julie Valentine’s body was found in 1990 inside a cardboard Kenmore box in a field strewn with trash along what is now Verdae Boulevard. Investigators named the baby Julie Valentine since she was found on Valentine’s Day.

Detectives with the Greenville Police Department said the scene was solemn and quiet as investigators struggled to believe what they were seeing.

Autopsy results showed that the newborn Julie Valentine may have lived for several days before her body was found.

Vacuum cleaner box where police recovered body of baby Julie Valentine in 1990.
Vacuum cleaner box where police recovered body of baby Julie Valentine in 1990.(Greenville Police Dept.)
The body of Julie Valentine was found in a box in a field strewn with trash in 1990.
The body of Julie Valentine was found in a box in a field strewn with trash in 1990.(Greenville Police Dept.)

Her unsolved death went on to haunt investigators for years, becoming one of the most infamous cold cases in Greenville’s history.

DNA testing helped police with a break in the case in 2019. They worked with Parabon Nanolabs to analyze DNA recovered from the crime scene which was traced to Julie Valentine’s parents. Her mother, Brooke Graham, was arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse.

Investigators learned Graham was also the mother to a newborn baby boy whose body was dumped in the woods in 1989 under eerily similar circumstances. Police said both babies still had umbilical cords attached.

Prosecutors initially sought to charge Graham with murder, but it was dropped due to lack of evidence indicating how her babies died.

Graham pleaded guilty last year to two counts of child neglect and one count of desecration of human remains. She entered an Alford plea, acknowledging the state had enough evidence to convict her but maintaining she is still innocent.

 Brooke Graham
Brooke Graham (WNDU)

Graham learned on Thursday she will not serve prison time for the deaths of the two babies. She was sentenced to five years of home detention and five years of probation.

She has been on home detention for 1,448 days and will get credit for the time she’s already served, which equates to about four years. Her attorney said Graham has multiple sclerosis and they have “substantial” concerns about her health and medical treatment if she were to be incarcerated.

“Your Honor, she has totally changed her life around,” her attorney said. “She stands before you here today, a woman that has gotten a grip of her demons and moved forward to basically be a productive member at this time.”

Julie Valentine has become a symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention in the Upstate. She inspired the name for the nonprofit Julie Valentine Center, which helps victims of child abuse and sexual assault. The organization, formerly the Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center, changed its name to honor her in 2011.

“Many times, justice is found through healing, through finding your voice again, through empowerment,” said Julie Valentine Center CEO Shauna Galloway-Williams. “That’s our goal here at our center, is to create a space, to provide services so that victims can find their voices, become survivors and beyond that, continue to thrive.”

Galloway-Williams released the following statement after Graham’s sentencing:

She said the case still opens wounds for the community but is thankful for the officials who have helped get this form of closure.

“We are grateful to law enforcement and the solicitor’s office and all of the partners who investigated this case and never gave up,” Galloway-Williams said. “There’s still a grief associated with what happened.”

Mother Sentenced in Julie Valentine Case

Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.