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Westlake mummified babies' mother identified

November 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Some new answers on the discovery of two fetuses from the 1930s: Maintenance workers found the remains in an apartment building at Lake and Eighth streets in the Westlake District. The mother has now been identified.The decades-old mummified fetuses found in the basement of an old Westlake District apartment building, have been identified, thanks to modern technology.

In August, two women were cleaning out the basement of the house when they found an old trunk. Inside were two doctor's bags, and inside each was a fetus wrapped in newspapers from the 1930s.

Through DNA, detectives say the babies' mother is Janet M. Barrie, a nurse who lived with a dentist's family in the apartment building.

There was always talk among the residents in the neighborhood on who the babies were and who the parents were.

The coroner determined they were brother and sister, but couldn't determine how or when they died.

Janet Barrie married the dentist she worked for after his wife died. When her husband died, she left for Canada. That's where detectives found a DNA match.

"What we were able to do was obtain a DNA sample from a niece of hers, and it was a close enough match for the analysts and for us to conclude that they were related," said LAPD Capt. Fabian Lizarraga.

The case will remain open even though detectives cannot determine, for now, if there was foul play involved or if the fetuses died from natural causes.

The thing modern technology cannot determine is who the babies' father was.