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Was former St. Louis hospital site for baby-selling ring?

Each mother was told her baby had died after birth
Women accuse former St. Louis hospital of selling their newborns 04:17

More than a dozen women are trying to solve a heartbreaking mystery. They want to know if a now-closed St. Louis hospital stole their newborns and sold them.

Each mother was told her baby had died after birth, but now, decades later, they have reason to doubt that, and they're demanding an investigation, reports CBS News correspondent Vinita Nair.

The allegations of a baby-selling ring started with the reunion of a mother and daughter posted on the internet in March. All of the women say they gave birth back when the facility was Homer G. Phillips Hospital, 36 years ago.

For 49 years, Zella Price believed her daughter died moments after birth. But for the first time, she held her in her arms.

Price was 26-years old when she gave birth to girl she named Diane. The baby was three months premature, weighing about a pound.

Zella remembers the baby crying, then a nurse took her away.

"'Zella, your baby passed,'"Price remembers the hospital staff saying. "So it was believable and acceptable but at the same time it hurt. It bothered me."

She didn't ask to say goodbye.

Price went on to have three more children.

Last September, she received a message on Facebook from a girl living in Oregon.

"My name is Mahiska Jackson," the message read.

"So I answered her. I said, 'What makes you think that I'm your grandmother and that's my daughter?'" Price said. "And she said, 'Well, my mother believes that you're her mother.'"

It's her sense, she said, that her adoptive parents must have shared her name.

After a DNA test confirmed they were related, Mahiska and her two siblings set up a surprise video call for their mom, Diane, who is legally deaf. Diane's response was overwhelming.

"I love you. I love you," Diane said.

"They were all women who had babies at very young ages -- 15, 16, 17, 18, some in their young 20s," attorney Albert Watkins who represents the Price family said. "There was not one adoption agency in the 1950s and 1960s in the St. Louis area, that catered to African American couples seeking to adopt infants of color."

CBS News tried to contact a representative from the hospital, which closed in 1979, but no one could speak on its behalf.

The mayor of St. Louis released a statement to "CBS This Morning," saying: "The alleged events happened a long time ago, when records retention practices were very different. We are working with alleged victims."

Price believes her daughter was adopted, but was returned and placed in foster care because of her hearing problems.

Though nearly half a century has passed, Price hopes her future, with her newfound daughter, will help heal all wounds.

"I didn't know I had a child to look for. But thank God, a child was lookin' for me," she said.

All the joy aside, there is also anger, but Price says she handles that through prayer.

"There's a lot of sadness to look at. But I must focus on the joy. I must," she said.

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