CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of fetal remains found on personal property associated with Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, an Indiana abortion doctor who died in September, will remain unidentified, barring new information that might be provided from any of his former patients, authorities said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, we heard for the first time what it was like inside the Will County garage where Klopfer kept and catalogued the thousands of fetal remains.
“It’s important that people understand just how grisly the circumstance was,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr.
Authorities in Will County found more than 2,200 fetal remains in Klopfer’s garage in southwest suburban Crete Township after his death. His family has said they found them in the garage, and never knew he’d been storing them there.
Until Tuesday, the Indiana Attorney General’s office had been tight-lipped about what the scene was like inside the garage.
Fetal remains were found in moldy boxes, and Styrofoam coolers held leaking medical waste bags. Sloppy, smudged, and incomplete records might explain which remains belonged to which patients.
“It’s virtually impossible to determine which remain goes with which record,” Hill said.
Weeks after the garage discovery, more remains were found in Klopfer’s car. In all, authorities found Klopfer had improperly stored more than 2,400 fetal remains on personal property.
Hundreds of thousands of health records from Klopfer’s practice also were left abandoned in his former clinics, as well as storage units and another garage he owned.
A preliminary report from Hill’s office found the remains are from abortions performed between 2000 and 2003. However, because Klopfer did not properly dispose of the remains, or notify patients about their medical records, authorities can’t confirm the identities of the individual remains.
“Based on the poor conditions of the fetal remains and unreliable nature of the accompanying records, it is not possible to make an independent verification of the identities of the individual fetal remains,” Hill’s report stated.
However, some of the remains might have enough paperwork and fetal tissue to work with. But Klopfer patients would need to come forward and start the process to find out if he took their remains home.
“There may be some possibility based upon the information that they would provide, and certainly if someone has that interest, we have set up a hotline,” Hill said.
Anyone who believes they might have a connection to any of the remains or medical records can contact Hill’s office at email@example.com or (317) 234-6663.
Klopfer had clinics in Gary, South Bend, and Fort Wayne. His family, who have fully cooperated with investigators, discovered the remains.
They have since been moved to Indiana, where Hill released the preliminary report on Tuesday.
The state now plans to have the remains buried “in a respectful and dignified manner,” and will safeguard Klopfer’s medical records until they can be properly destroyed.
For patients, closure will come in the form of one of one central memorial site for all victims.
“That is good enough for me. That’s going to pay proper respect to these babies,” said Klopfer patient Serena Dyksen. and as someone with a mother’s heart, I just want to make sure that happens.”
Authorities said the remains found were from 2000 to 2002, which coincides with when Klopfer maintained the clinics in Indiana.
The doctor, who died September 3, made the Crete Township property his home for the last 29 years. At some point, and it’s unclear when, he started bringing work home.
The osteopathic physician had performed abortions, mostly in Indiana, for decades.
CBS 2 uncovered his Indiana medical license was revoked in 2015 for “failure to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice.”
His license to practice in the state of Illinois expired in the 1990s.
As for the practice of taking the remains home?
It’s considered medical waste. The state of Illinois demands that such material “will be handled in a safe and responsible manner.” Not kept, as sources CBS 2, near the garage of the doctor’s home.
While CBS 2 was told there’s no evidence that surgeries were performed there, little else is known about how the material was stored, transported or who the women were.
Officials have said Klopfer’s has been cooperating, and maintained they never knew he used their home as an illegal storage facility for his practice.