Mystery of Mummified Babies Surrounds 'Jean M. Barrie'
The bodies were wrapped in historic newspapers.
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Storyteller Jean M. Barrie is seen in the 1918 edition of Lyceum Magazine. (Lyceum Magazine/The Los Angeles Times)
Authorities began autopsies on the babies' remains Thursday.
Investigators plan to use DNA testing to determine whether the babies were related. Toxicology tests will also be performed to help determine the cause of death.
The grim discovery was made Tuesday evening in the 800 block of Lake Street, near James M. Wood Boulevard.
Workers were clearing out the basement for renovations when they spotted the remains inside a steamer trunk, LAPD Lt. Cory Palka said.
The trunk bore the initials "JMB" and inside were items with the name Jean M. Barrie, detectives said. Each of the bodies were wrapped in 1930s-era Los Angeles Times newspapers and placed in a doctor-style bag.
Also inside the trunk were photographs, ticket stubs from the closing ceremonies of the 1932 Olympic games, personal letters to family members, a fur wrap, a flapper dress, a beaded purse and a bundle of blank medical test forms.
LAPD officials on Thursday searched the apartment building once again, along with dogs, and took away items that were initially left behind.
The medical forms pointed detectives in the direction of Jean M. Barrie, who lived in the area and may have worked as a nurse, The Los Angeles Times reported. Barrie was born in San Francisco in 1916. Detectives said they found postcards in the trunk addressed to a Jean M. Barrie from a brother, Thomas, in San Francisco.
Investigators are also considering a connection to a different woman named Jean M. Barrie who lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast and was related to "Peter Pan" author James M. Barrie, the Times reported.
A copy of "Peter Pan" was found inside the trunk along with a membership certificate for the Peter Pan Woodland Club, a Big Bear resort.
It's believed the babies' remains may be 70 to 80 years old.
LAPD Rampart detectives and the coroner's office are conducting the investigation.
They're hoping to track down family members, if possible.
A resident told KTLA that the building dates back to 1926 and used to house several celebrities and actresses.
The coroner's office says it's possible the person who placed the fetuses inside the trunk could not afford a proper burial, or was a medical doctor who wanted to keep the remains for research.