Like a scene from a horror movie, the story of a newborn baby stolen by hospital staff is being investigated in St. Louis. After one woman has been reunited with the daughter she was told had died at birth, a total of 18 women have come forward with stories that are eerily similar. The Department of Justice is launching an investigation into a St. Louis hospital that may have stolen babies for the purpose of human trafficking.
Zella Jackson Price gave birth to a baby girl at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis in 1965. Zella never saw her baby and was told by a nurse hours after the birth that her daughter had died. She did not receive a death certificate. It never occurred to Zella that her baby could have been stolen.
In a truly heartbreaking scenario, Zella was reunited with her baby 49 years after the birth and alleged death. Melanie Gilmore had grown up in foster care, believing her mother had given her up at birth. When Melanie's children decided to track down her birth mother for a 50th birthday surprise, it was a larger shock than any of them could have imagined. Zella was overcome with joy.
"She looked like me. She was so excited and full of joy. It was just beautiful. I'll never forget that."A DNA test proved that Melanie is, indeed, Zella's daughter, giving hope to many other women who endured the same treatment at Phillips Hospital.
KSDK reports that Price has retained an attorney to petition the courts to open all court files pertaining to her stolen baby, and a human trafficking investigator from the Department of Justice is looking into the matter. It seems these 18 babies who may have been stolen were all born at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, which is no longer in operation, from the 1940's to the 1960's. All the babies were born to poor, young black women.
One mother, Brenda Stewart, believes her baby was stolen and is still alive.
"Why? Because I was 16-years-old? Because I was a teenager, you had the right just to take my baby? It'll be 51 years the 21st of next month. I've been waiting to know about my baby and I just do not believe she's dead."Leatrice Barry was 21-years-old when she gave birth to a baby girl. Although she was told the baby had lived for nine hours before dying, Barry never saw her baby.
"I didn't know enough to ask questions. If she's alive, that's going to hurt, because I would have missed 53 years of her life or however long this takes."Yet another mother died believing her baby had perished at birth. Her children are now searching for the baby sister they believe was stolen from the hospital in 1946 or 1947.
If you gave birth at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis and were told your baby died, or if you may be one of the presumably stolen babies or have any pertinent information to the case, contact the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Gail Vasterling, at 573-751-6005 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The address is Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0570.
If the stolen babies were given or sold into adoption, how did Melanie end up in foster care? Stay tuned for updates to this horrifying stolen baby case.
[Image via KSDK]