Two fetuses were found by contractors in jars in the basement of a Hannibal property that was once the site of a clinic.
The property's owner hinted that the discovery supports a rumor that the property once housed an illegal abortion clinic prior to the 1950s.
??I know they did medical procedures and stuff,?? the property's owner, William C. Neff, said. ??I was told that they helped a lot of ladies. That's all I know.??
The home at the intersection of 6th and Church streets was once owned by Neff's father, Dale, who ran a chiropractic clinic there.
Marion County Coroner Darrell McCoy said he looked at the findings and the fetuses appeared between 50- and 60-years-old making gender identification difficult. He also determined that they appeared to be at 20 weeks and 26 weeks in development.
While there's no definitive way to learn what caused the fetuses' death, McCoy said he believes that it was not the result of a terminated pregnancy given the well-preserved state of the bodies and the crude nature of primitive mid-20th Century abortion procedures.
??It was not uncommon at all for doctors, physicians and school teachers to have fetuses preserved in jars and there is no signs of trauma on the babies at all,?? he said. ??It would be tough to get a good DNA profile off of them, but we can't tell you 100 percent for sure that they weren't aborted.??
Click here to watch raw YouTube video from inside the basement. USE CAUTION, VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES.
Neff recently hired contractors Gary and Todd Haynes to renovate the building. Gary Haynes and his wife were exploring the basement Wednesday afternoon when they made the discovery.
The jars with the two fetuses were found in a ceramic container covered with a cloth beneath an old medical examining table.
The property was a clinic before Neff's parents purchased it around 1950 and used it as his father's chiropractic office.
Hannibal History Museum curator Lisa Marks confirmed that in the early 1900s the building was used as a clinic by a doctor named Hayes.
William C. Neff said that when he was a child, his parents told him that there were many more similar jars in the basement. He expressed some surprise that some were still there.His parents rarely spoke about what they found.??They didn't want to talk about it too much, but they just found stuff down there that shouldn't be there,?? he said.
Click here for a closer look at the history of the home at the intersection of 6th and Church streets.
McCoy and the Hannibal Police Department worked with the Missouri State Coroner's Association to decide what to do with the fetuses.
Hannibal businesses teamed up Friday morning to decide how to lay the two discovered fetuses to rest.
??The James O'Donnell Funeral Home donated a casket and Mount Olivet Cemetery will donate a burial plot to give the remains a proper burial,?? McCoy said. ??The police indicated to me that they wouldn't pursue it any further.??
Hannibal Monument Company is providing a grave marker.
The FBI was contacted, but at this point, there is no evidence to give it jurisdiction to investigate, Rebecca Wu, a spokeswoman for the FBI in St. Louis said.
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