Casket switch behind discovery of infant's partial remains

Posted: Updated:

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Police have solved part of the mystery of the child's casket found on a Philadelphia sidewalk: A funeral home worker dumped it there, apparently unaware it contained some of the remains of an infant who had been transferred to another coffin for a funeral in New Jersey.

Investigators initially thought the casket found Monday had been dug up from a nearby cemetery, but an investigation revealed none had any disturbed graves.

Then on Tuesday, a New Jersey funeral home director reached out to Philadelphia police after one of its employees admitted what happened. Police said it wasn't clear why the worker left the small white casket behind in a black trash bag.

Inside the casket was a garbage bag containing the internal organs of a 3- to 4-month-old baby.

"It was shocking to say the least," Capt. Malachi Jones said Thursday. "It begs the question: Where is the baby?"

The child's funeral was a week ago, and it turns out, there was an explanation for what appeared to have happened.

Police were told that the latch on the coffin found in Philadelphia had broken. As a result, funeral home workers transferred the baby's body to a new casket, and the broken one was placed in a work car.

It wasn't clear, however, why the organs - removed as part of an autopsy - were left in the broken casket.

Police have been in touch with the child's family, and they hope to reunite the organs with the baby's body. However, because the child has already been buried, the remains would have to be exhumed in order to do so, Jones said.

"The family is quite upset," he said.

Police did not identify the funeral home.

No charges have been filed but the investigation is continuing.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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