New Evidence Sheds Light On Mummified Babies Found In Westlake

LOS ANGELES (CBS) —The case of the mummified infants in the Westlake District has been partially solved, but questions still linger in the 80-year-old mystery.

Los Angeles County Coroners’ investigators have confirmed that the two newborn girls whose skeletal remains were found in a steamer trunk in the basement of a Westlake District apartment building were born of Janet M. Barrie, a nurse and Hollywood socialite.

But many wonder why Barrie kept their births a secret? Did she have a hand in their deaths? And who was the girls’ father?

Some questions may never be answered — namely, who fathered the girls — but investigators say the evidence left behind may answer others.

Barrie was 4-years old when her family immigrated, leaving behind the coal mines of Scotland to work the farmlands of Alberta, Canada, CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige reported.

“Janet seemed to want to get out of the environment she was in, and she went to nursing,” Chief Coroner Craig Harvey said.

It was as a nurse that she came to care for the wife of George Knapp, a dentist she later married. It was during this time that Barrie gave birth to the two girls, neither of whom was born in a hospital and both died as newborns.

artifacts mummified babies New Evidence Sheds Light On Mummified Babies Found In Westlake

Barrie's mummified baby daughters were found wrapped in newspaper and silken undergarments in these leather satchels. (credit: CBS)

The girls’ mummified remains were found last August, wrapped in newspapers from the 1930s and tucked into two leather satchels found in a steamer trunk. Coroner investigators say the girls’ bodies were also wrapped in clean silken garments.

The silken garments, in fact, were too clean to contain all of the girls’ decomposing remains, suggesting that the babies had both been wrapped and unwrapped several time in clean garments.

“It suggests the children, despite their outcome, were loved,” Harvey said.

However, without DNA from George Knapp, it remains a mystery who fathered the two girls.

  • citizen

    who cares.

    • Lola

      I do.

      • Nick L.

        Me too…if u dont care there’s something wrong with you.

  • jennifer

    really..its easy to figure out…ms.barrie obviously was a ho to the doctor…but since the doc was married…they killed the babies…the real lesson of this is if you do a married guy…karma will bite you in the butt

    • mom

      It didn’t say she was sleeping with him before his wife died. Gotta love the way people make assumptions without knowing the whole story….and by the way, I slept with a married man. We are now married and have 2 wonderful children…karma must have missed me because I have the best life ever!

      • mom

        Actually, I do know where my hubby is. I am very proud of the life I had. I’m not afraid to admit to anything in my life. I’m not afraid of Karma…I treat my hubby with respect and he does the same with me. I know he hasn’t cheated on me. He goes to work and comes home. He loves being at home with his family. I’m sure those of you casting stones have some skeletons…maybe you’re even jealous LMAO!!!

        Thank you Lynn831…someone who sees the big picture instead of assuming the worst of people :-)

      • Foooo


      • Couture

        Well done, one more woman with little respect for other women, or herself, or her daughters … wait til someone wants to/will sleep with your husband! See how much you hope for Karma then! Trust me, he did it once, he’ll do it again!

      • Angela Strickland

        wow and u had the nerve to anounce that to the world. u must be so proud…

      • Dad

        Life is not over honey! Do you know where your man is?

      • princes purgatory

        best life ever? give it time….because he will cheat on you too :) probably already has….

      • Lynn831

        Did it occur to anyone that “mom” was dating her current husband after he separated from his wife and file for divorce but before a divorce was granted? She did not go into specifics and that is a possiblity.

        Technically he would still be married. Divorce proceedings can last for a very long time. Are both parties involved supposed to remain single until the dissolution is filed with the court…I don’t think so.

        Cut her some slack!

      • Momo

        Um….thanks for the story?….Word of advice? Knock on wood.

      • Becca

        Mom, over sharing at its best. I was always told the way you came upon your spouse is the way you will lose them. Karma doesn’t have a time stamp either lol.

    • thinker

      Every think that perhaps she was raped? The babies might also have been stillborn.

  • Coaster

    Jennifer, don’t be so narrow minded. The article says she married him, and the babies could have been born during that time, too. It doesn’t say they were or were not his babies. In fact, it makes a point of saying there is no way to tell. It doesn’t say they were killed. It DOES say they were loved and cared for in death. Thatobviously indicates that they were wanted, and not cast off like so much waste and offal. Even a doctor’s babies can fall victim to the diseases of the times, not like today when most babies live.

    You shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgement, lest the Karma you cite judge you as quickly – and as callously.

  • Lisa

    They should be buried with her. I hope someone will see to that.

  • deborah

    To: MOM…Karma hasn’t hit you YET! YOu’ll see…..
    To : Coaster,
    She was married to a dentist! which means if the babies were his, they could afford a proper funeral. Seems like she WAS having a affair. Just becuase she cared for them (out of pure guilt maybe)AFTER they somehow died didn’t mean she didn’t silence them.

    • Dontjudgeothers

      Maybe she just couldn’t let go of their deaths, that’s why she kept them near her. A mothers love is strong

  • Just Sayin'

    This story would definitely make for a creepy movie; over several decades the aging mother, the husband having passed many years before, continues to care for the dead babies like they were still alive. Washing them, dressing them, talking to them, re-living over and over the shame of what occurred in the 1930’s. What could be going through someone’s mind during all those years, never speaking to anyone about what happened, the “crimes” only discovered after the old woman’s death? Very poignant and sad when you think about it. I hope these little children will be buried with their loving mother and finally find peace.

  • J

    The 1930’s was The Depression Era for the U.S. It could be that they could not have afforded to bury the children, or perhaps she had a mental illness and that is why she did not bury the children….or perhaps she was ashamed for any number of reasons. People need to stop judging with limited facts.

    • Open minded

      J- It is so refreshing to see someone say “we don’t have all the facts” when we have no idea what really happened. I agree sleeping with a married man is an awful thing, so would be killing your children. At this stage, there is no proof of either. She did marry the man she was working for… AFTER his wife died. How do we know she was ‘with’ him before the wife’s death?

  • deborah

    Janet M. Barrie, a nurse and Hollywood socialite.
    The the area she was living in where she left the babies was a good area back in the day. So YES I think she could have afforded a funeral for these babies…but maybe GUILT and prison time or even the death by electric chair keep them babies just where they were found.

  • mswmom

    Maybe you’re seeing something I’m not. The article doesn’t say his wife died.

  • Wendy C

    Actually she married the dentist later. I read the full story some time ago. She cared for his wife until the wife’s death, and then married the dentist. If I remember correctly she was in her 50’s when they finally married. Maybe they should exhume him to check paternity.

    • Macie Jo

      Interesting…so maybe she killed the wife also? Plus if they didn’t get married until she was 50, that virtually rules out the notion by previous commenters who said maybe the babies were born of the marriage. They were probably born 30 years prior to that

  • deborah

    LYNNE831…Cut her some slack? then she should have put it in a tasteful way don’t you think? Hey I wasn’t no angel either when I was in my 20’s and guess what? I got married and my husband left me for another woman…yes KARMA does come back! I learned my lesson well so a note to MOM…don’t go bragging,! because you’re stil alive and Karma (in diffrent ways) will catch up when you least expect it.

  • driranek

    Since the remains were mummified its obvious that Ramses II was the father. :-)

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