crimesider

"Peter Pan" Connection to 75-Year-Old Mystery of Mummified Fetuses Found In California?

Two bundles of mummified fetal remains were found, wrapped in newspaper from the 1930s, in the basement of a Los Angeles apartment building Aug. 17. The bundles were found in two black leather doctor bags inside a 1920s steamer trunk.
KCAL
"Peter Pan" Connection to 75-Year-Old Mystery of the 2 Mummified Fetuses Found In California?
The 1920's steamer trunk where mummified fetal remains were found. (KCAL)

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Los Angeles police detectives are trying to solve a 75-year-old mystery involving two fetuses that were found Tuesday, wrapped in newspaper dating from the 1930's - and they're wondering whether "Peter Pan" is a part of the story.

Yiming Xing, who lives in the Glen-Donald apartments, thought maybe she had uncovered antiques as she peeled back the newspaper that was wrapped around one of two tiny bundles she found in an old steamer trunk in the basement of her building. Instead, she came to the chilling realization that what she held in her hands were human fetal remains.

"When I saw it was something like that I kind of freaked a little bit, so I just left it on the table and then we called the police," Xing said Wednesday, recalling a feeling that perhaps "we kind of disturbed the spirit."

When police arrived they unwrapped the second bundle only to find other, slightly more developed fetal remains wrapped inside the browned and tattered pages of a Los Angeles Times dated 1935.

Xing said those remains "looked exactly like a baby," with hair on its developed head.

What they found next has added yet another puzzling layer to the case.

The bundles were found in two black leather doctor bags inside a 1920's steamer trunk. Also found in the trunk was a certificate of membership to the Peter Pan Woodland Club mountain resort, bearing the name Jean Barrie. There was also a typing manual with the signature "Jean M. Barrie" inside, and the steamer trunk bore the initials JMB.

The "Peter Pan" angle? The fictional little boy who wouldn't grow up  was created by Scottish author James M. Barrie -- also initials JMB -- who died in 1937.

Authorities could not immediately say whether there was a connection between the fetuses and the mysterious Jean M. Barrie, or even if there was a specific "Peter Pan" connection beyond the membership to the mountain resort.

If, in fact, the fetuses were placed in the trunk around the time those newspapers were printed, it would have been during an era when "back-alley" abortions were common because abortion at that time was illegal.

The 94-unit Glen-Donald building was home to doctors, lawyers, writers and actors when it opened in 1925, most of them single women.

Police were awaiting results from the coroner's office.

"We have many more tools and technology available to us than before, which may allow for identification of the victims and closure to any family members," Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times.