Woman finds human fetus, cremated remains in storage unit won in online auction

An unsuspecting woman bought boxes with a human fetus and cremated remains in a storage unit auction. (SOURCE: WALA)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 12:51 PM CDT
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ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WALA/Gray News) - A woman in Alabama made a disturbing discovery when she purchased a storage unit in an online auction and found cremated human remains and a fetus in a jar.

Rebekah McManus said she had never bid on a storage unit before. She said she had already bought the contents of one storage unit in Mobile when the owner of the facility offered her a second one when that unit’s high bidder didn’t show.

When she took up the offer, she said she made a shocking discovery in several boxes found in the unit -- human remains.

McManus said she didn’t know what she had bought until she brought all of the boxes home from Mobile. She said finding ashes was disturbing enough, and then she opened another box.

“I found a fetus in a jar,” McManus told WALA. “The jar was supposed to be … it wasn’t a specimen jar or anything. It was supposed to be for sutures for an autopsy, I suppose. I’m not sure what happened with that or where they were going with it or why he was in there, but I thought it was a heart when I opened it and lifted it up initially and it was not a heart. I freaked out a little.”

While the name of the business hasn’t been released, McManus said she eventually learned the storage unit belonged to a funeral service in Mobile which is no longer in business.

McManus said she initially contacted the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office. They directed her to call Robertsdale Police to take possession of the fetus.

“It was definitely not something we expected to deal with, or you know … it was hard to believe what we were being told and, obviously later, what we saw,” Lt. Paul Overstreet, with Robertsdale Police, said.

Overstreet said the Robertsdale Police Department opened an investigation as they would with the discovery of any deceased person, with the hopes of ruling out foul play or any criminal element.

The remains have been taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile.

Meanwhile, McManus has taken on the task of tracking down 13 families related to the remains. The cremated ashes are labeled by various third-party crematories, giving her a place to start.

McManus soon learned it was a case of miscommunication among the families.

“Somebody thought somebody else picked them up, and they never did, so they were very happy to get them back and have them in their hands,” McManus explained. “The others were really surprised because they were not expecting that phone call at all.”

Some of the remains date back a few years while others are closer to three decades old.

McManus listed the names and death dates of five people whose families she’s still trying to track down:

•Kendal Jay Brown, cremated on: 1/18/15

•Irene Foster, cremated: 07/02/93

•Willie Martin JR, no cremation date listed

•Jimmie Lee Craig, cremated: 07/09/97

•Melissa Stallworth, cremated: 01/05/94

If you know how to reach any of the families, you’re asked to email Rebekah McManus at cookiem1987@gmail.com and be sure to write the name of the loved one in the subject line.