The fetal remains found at the home of an abortion doctor were sealed in plastic bags and filled over 70 boxes, law enforcement officials said on Sept. 19.
More than 70 cardboard boxes containing 2,246 remains of dead babies were found in Ulrich Klopfer’s garage. The remains were in small plastic bags containing formalin, a chemical used to preserve biological material, Will County Sheriff Mike Kelly said at a press conference.
The boxes that contained the remains were mixed among other boxes containing Klopfer’s personal property.
They were found by the doctor’s family after his Sept. 3 death. There was no evidence that Klopfer performed abortions at his home. He operated from three clinics in Indiana, including one in South Bend.
Klopfer’s family did not know about the remains, officials said.
Evidence gathered by law enforcement indicates the remains are from 2000 to 2002, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said.
Asked if it was illegal to transport fetal remains across state lines, Glasgow declined to answer directly. “We are working with the Indiana Attorney General’s office and arrangements are being made to transfer the fetal remains to their custody.”
“There’s requirements for record keeping and that’s one of the issues that the attorney general in Indiana is initially addressing because obviously these records were not handled properly at that time. As far as other aspects to this, it’s still an open investigation. Because it coincides with the time he was doing the abortions in Indiana, most of the evidence of anything that occurred is there,” he added.
Pressed on whether Klopfer committed any crimes, Glasgow said, “If Mr. Klopfer did something wrong it’s irrelevant at this point because he can’t be prosecuted.”
Glasgow noted that Klopfer said he performed an abortion on a 10-year-old girl. Klopfer also did abortions on multiple other girls under the age of 14.
Asked if he considered the remains human babies versus medical waste, Glasgow said he could not get into “the gestation” of the remains, or how old the unborn babies were when they were aborted. Authorities said they couldn’t describe the condition of the remains.
Sheriff Kelly said the search of the house involved about 50 people.
“I could tell you in the 31 years that I’ve been doing this job I’ve never seen anything like this, ever. It is a strange—it’s one of those once in a lifetime things,” he said.
He said he couldn’t speculate about Klopfer’s motivations in keeping the aborted fetuses. Indiana investigators will likely interview people who worked at Klopfer’s clinics, Kelly said.
Will County Coroner Pat O’Neil called it “one of the most unusual cases in our careers.”
He said cemetery associations, individuals, and the local Catholic church called to offer free burials for the dead babies. The remains were being sent to Indiana officials, the Illinois officials said.