March 19, 1997 in Nation/World

Officials Examining Dumped Fetuses No New Information Until Medical Tests Completed

Riverside Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County authorities are trying to determine the age and sex of as many as 34 fetuses found packaged in boxes dumped near Highway 71 in Chino Hills.

“Right now, we are kind of stumbling in the dark,” said Deputy Coroner Inspector Tom Donhurst. “We are hoping to get a better handle on what we are dealing with, and that won’t come until we’ve had a chance to assess the fetuses.”

In the meantime, investigators for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the coroner’s office said they will not release additional information until the medical assessments are complete.

Two children were playing Friday near Highways 71 and 60 in the Chino Hills when one of them opened a box and discovered the fetuses. Each box, measuring 3 feet by 5 feet and sealed with duct tape, contained six sterilized plastic containers, each designed to hold a single fetus.

Authorities said over the weekend the fetuses were in the early stages of development. However, they did not know how far along the fetuses were, or where they came from.

California law generally requires identifiable human tissues, including fetuses, to be disposed of by incineration, said Jack McGurk, chief of the state Department of Health Services’ environmental management branch.

But there’s only one company in California licensed to incinerate human tissue - and that company is in Oakland, McGurk said.

McGurk said the doctors, hospitals and others who generate medical wastes, and the companies that dispose of those wastes, are required to use a system of manifests to track where the wastes came from, who handled them and disposal.

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