Infants' remains found under Texas trailer porch

FORT WORTH, Texas — The skeletal remains of two infants have been found in a box and a storage container under an abandoned mobile home porch in rural northern Texas — a year after another baby's remains were discovered in a suitcase in a nearby field, officials said Monday.

The son of the land owner who rents mobile homes to several people on his 5-acre lot said he was cleaning Sunday when he found some bones in a box in a plastic bag and others in a plastic storage bin.

Authorities plan to compare the infants' DNA samples to that of the other baby whose remains were found last year in a suitcase in a field on the same lot, said Tarrant County Sheriff's Office spokesman Terry Grisham. In that case, the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause of death, and authorities had no leads because they could not identify the baby or say whether a crime had occurred, Grisham said.

Justin Southern said that when he saw the bag and storage container under the stairs, he remembered his father's gruesome discovery.

"That thought just flashed in my head, and I thought, 'Surely Lord, no — please' and I jerked that trash bag open," Southern said. "It's overwhelming. It's sad someone could even think about doing that to a baby."

The brother and sister who lived in the mobile home for about three years before recently moving out denied knowing anything about the remains found Sunday and said they were surprised to hear about the discovery, Grisham said. They have been cooperating with authorities and have not been charged with any crime, officials said.

Detectives also were trying to find out if anyone else stayed at the mobile home or lived there before the siblings, Grisham said.

Authorities were still investigating how and when the infants died, said Dr. Roger Metcalf of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office. He said a report could take several days, but a cause of death may never be determined depending on the state of decomposition.

"We'll have to look at the evidence to see if it was a fetus, stillborn birth or was born alive," Metcalf told The Associated Press.

If the infants were born dead or died of natural causes, someone still could face charges. Texas law prohibits concealing a human corpse if someone knows it is not properly buried, and penalties for the Class A misdemeanor are up to a year in jail and maximum $4,000 fine.

Crime scene tape surrounded the gray mobile home Monday as county workers cut down 3- and 4-foot-high weeds and brush, and cadaver dogs searched the area for a couple of hours without finding anything. Some chairs remained on the front porch of the trailer near Rendon, a community about 20 miles south of Fort Worth.

"We're looking for any type of evidence such as clothing or any more remains," Grisham said. "We'll be out here as long as we need to be."

Bo Pavelka, 29, who lives across the street from the trailer, said he had seen a man play with a dog in the yard but had never talked to him.

"I'm curious and worried about who it is," said Pavelka, who has two young children and a third child on the way. "Is it some girl having a baby and then throwing it out, or someone taking babies? We need to find out what the hell is going on."


Associated Press videojournalist Rich Matthews in Rendon contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS that land owner's son found remains.)

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

No comments: