Infant Skeletons Found in Tarrant County

By Frank Heinz, Scott Friedman and Lita Beck
|  Monday, Aug 24, 2009  |  Updated 11:44 PM CDT
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Landlord Finds Remains of Infants Under Mobile Home

Investigation is under way after the skeletal remains of several infants were found in southern Tarrant County.

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Landlord Calls 911 After Finding Human Bones

A woman calls 911 after finding what appear to be human bones in a rental property.

Infant Skeletons Found in Tarrant County

Sheriff's investigators comb the property surrounding a Tarrant County mobile home after the skeletal remains of two infants were found.
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Sheriff's investigators combed the property surrounding a Tarrant County mobile home Monday after the skeletal remains of two infants were found Sunday afternoon.

It's the same area where police found the remains of a human fetus in a suitcase in a field about 30 to 40 feet from the home more than a year ago. Investigators have yet to solve that case.

Tarrant County Sheriff's spokesman Terry Grisham said authorities are still not sure whether a crime was committed or the remains were the result of miscarriages or late-term abortions.

A county anthropologist worked into the early morning hours at the site Monday and was joined by the medical examiner again after daybreak.

There were no immediate signs of trauma to the bodies. 

"They're very small, very small," said Dr. Roger Metcalf, of the medical examiner's office.

Metcalf said the medical examiner's office did not know how old the infants were at the time of death.

The medical examiner said it may be days before the office has any answers. It is possible investigators may never know exactly what happened, the medical examiner said.

According to investigators, Justin Southern, the owner of the property, was cleaning Sunday afternoon after the mobile home's previous tenants moved out. When he peeled back some skirting on the bottom of the mobile home, Southern discovered a plastic trash bag with a box and a plastic container in the crawl space.

"And I jerked that trash bag, and it looked like a bucket of red mud," he said. "I dumped the bucket over, and that's where underneath what I thought was the red mud was a towel, and the remains were underneath the towel."

Each contained the skeleton of an infant. Investigators are now trying to determine how long the bones had been there.

"It's sad that anyone could even think about doing that to a baby," Southern said.

Sheriff's investigators located the most recent tenants, who are cooperating with the investigation. The tenants told police they were unaware of the containers.

The most recent tenants are not considered suspects in the case.

Southern's father discovered the remains of the fetus found in the field behind the mobile home in March 2008.

Monday morning, the sheriff's department brought in a work crew to clear brush on the property. Sheriff's deputies brought in search dogs before sunset but did not discover any more remains after nearly an hour.

The mobile home park is in an unincorporated part of Tarrant County between Mansfield and Burleson, about 20 miles south of Fort Worth.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the discovery of the remains.

"Like I said, I got two kids, and we need to find out who the heck's doing this to little bitty babies," Bo Pavelka said.

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