Update On Mummified Remains Of Babies Found In Westlake; Great Lifetime Movie Material
Fascinating new discoveries in the case of the two mummified babies, likely from the 1930s, found last month wrapped in a steam trunk in the basement of a Westlake apartment building.
An LAPD press release adds new details to their investigation of the owner of the trunk. Most tantalizing: The apparent owner of the trunk was some kind of "home care nurse" for the Knapp family, but then married the man of the house after the woman died.
Materials in the trunk included two letters and several Christmas cards addressed to a Jean M. Barrie. There are also letters addressed to Janet M. Barrie. Using offcial documents, investigators determined this is the same person. Barrie was born in 1897, and records indicate she emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland during the mid-1920s.
Investigators found photos and negatives in the trunk, showing a woman wearing clothing also found inside the trunk, including a purse and white fox boa (flapper!).
Investigators have also searched for death, marriage and birth certificates and turned up Barrie's 1964 marriage to George Guy Knapp in L.A. after the death of his first wife, identified as Mary Downs Knapp.
Here's the fun scandal, and the seeds of a great Lifetime historical drama: Up to that time, Barrie had apparently been a home care nurse for Mrs. Knapp, since 1941.
George Guy Knapp died in 1968, and Barrie left L.A. in the 1980s. Several years later, she died in Canada. Family members there have been contacted.
Both the mummified babies were full-term infants. One was a female; the other's gender is unknown. Investigators say trauma doesn't appear to be a factor in either infant's death. For now, the causes of death are undetermined, and the case remains open pending DNA and toxicology results for both infants.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.