Mississippi authorities investigating how remains of possible fetus ended up at industrial wastewater treatment plant

Published 5:28 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating how the remains of what appears to be a 16-week-old fetus were deposited at a Natchez wastewater treatment plant on River Terminal Road.

Adams County Coroner James Lee said the Adams County Sheriff’s Office called him to respond to what appeared to be a human fetus inside a drainage system at the plant on Tuesday morning. This plant is not attached to the city water treatment system and therefore poses no risk to the city’s tap water, he said.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said there are multiple drains that could’ve led to the treatment plant. He added it is unclear how the fetal remains would have gotten there, but it appears that they washed up with the wastewater at the treatment facility.

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“Upon my arrival, I noticed a fetus that appeared to be (16 weeks) gestational age laying in sewage,” Lee said. “My heart is broken. I pray for the people who disposed of this child the way they did.”

Lee added he recovered the remains in a small plastic bag and contacted the Mississippi Crime Lab for autopsy and DNA samples, but they refused the case.

“According to the Crime Lab, it was not considered viable,” Patten said. “There is a question as to whether a crime has been committed or if it was simply a miscarriage.”

He added the sheriff’s office is currently looking to send the remains to a private lab for autopsy and DNA samples to see if the mother can be found.

“The chances of that are very slim,” he said. “In order for that to happen, the DNA would have to match someone that is already in the system.”

Regardless, Patten urged parents to talk to their daughters or for any who may have miscarried to seek medical attention if they haven’t done so.

“This is a traumatic experience on all sides,” he said. “Whomever the mother was is going to need medical attention. If the fetus was viable, it would be considered a desecration of a corpse, but if not there are no legal ramifications.”