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.


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