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News Release

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Media Relations

Update on Discovery of Mummified Infants

Los Angeles: Los Angeles Police Department detectives continue their death investigation of a mysterious case involving the discovery of two long-deceased small infants found in a storage trunk last month when residents of an apartment building were cleaning out a community basement filled with property.

Along with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, detectives examined other items found with the infants inside the steamer trunk, which was marked with the initials J.M.B.  Materials in the trunk included two letters and several Christmas cards addressed to a Jean M. Barrie.  One letter, addressed to a Janet M. Barrie, was apparently from a Thomas M. Barrie in San Francisco who identified himself in the letter as Ms. Barrie’s brother.  A second letter addressed to Janet M. Barrie was sent by another family member from Canada. The correspondences to both Jean M. Barrie and Janet M. Barrie were sent to the same address.  Other correspondence from family members addressed to Jean M. Barrie referenced a “Janet” within the body of the letters. Using official Scottish documents and U.S. Immigration records, detectives were able to confirm that Janet Mann Barrie and Jean M. Barrie were the same person.  Barrie was born on Jan. 15, 1897, and records indicate she emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland during the mid-1920s.  

To help detectives and personnel from the coroner’s office determine Barrie’s connection to the trunk’s contents, investigators used photos and negatives from the trunk that depicted a white female wearing items of clothing that were also discovered inside the trunk, such as a purse and white fox boa.

Also included in the investigation was a search for death, marriage and birth certificates.  During the search, detectives discovered Barrie’s 1964 marriage to George Guy Knapp in Los Angeles after the death of his first wife, identified as Mary Downs Knapp.  Up to that time, Barrie had apparently been a homecare nurse for Mrs. Knapp since 1941.  Barrie’s marriage to Knapp lasted only four years due to his death in 1968, and she eventually left Los Angeles in the 1980s.  Several years later, she died in Canada where family members have been contacted in Canada.

Coroners have performed autopsies of the infants’ remains with the assistance of an anthropologist.  Both decedents were found to be full-term infants, one of which was a female.  The sex of the second infant has not yet been established.  Thus far, trauma doesn’t appear to be a factor in either infant’s death.  For now, the causes of death are classified as undetermined, and the case remains open pending DNA and toxicology results for both infants.  

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact LAPD Juvenile Division detectives at 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.