Garden of Innocents was initiated in response to the death of Destiny Daniels, a 2-1/2 month old little girl who was beaten to death by her mentally ill mother. Rebeca Navarro-McKelvey, the organization’s founder, brought the story to the attention of many friends and family members and began her drive for a memorial fund that would provide Destiny with a dignified burial. Although Destiny’s body was claimed by her grandmother, the family did need help with expenses. Because the memorial fund was highly publicized, much more was raised than was necessary for Destiny’s funeral; these proceeds were donated to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a child abuse advocacy group.

Arranging Destiny’s funeral prompted Ms. Navarro-McKelvey’s desire to assist other children. She contacted the Medical Examiner’s office and expressed interest. Chief Investigator Rose Psara informed Ms. Navarro-McKelvey that her office handled unclaimed children—often preterm infants with teenage mothers, whose bodies were not claimed by next of kin. These children were buried at the expense of the City of St. Louis. They were not dressed, had no memorial service and were buried in unmarked graves. No one could attend the child's burial.

After learning about the sad destiny of these children, Garden of Innocents was formed to provide these children with the final love and respect that all human beings deserve. According to the organization’s motto, “a person’s a person, no matter how small” (from Dr. Seuss).

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