Kevin Deutsch's little article in the Palm Beach Post today reminded me of the time I saw a mummified baby that had been left in a briefcase.
It was at the Lee County Medical Examiner's Office and the thing that struck me about it was how perfect it had been preserved, almost like a doll. It was a little black baby with wisps of hair intact. Its skin seemed to have turned into a kind of stiff leather. The only thing that really marred its appearance was the autopsy scars and stitches. I'm not a religious guy, but I must say I felt a sense of holiness in that room that day, oh, 11 years ago.
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The baby had come from the now-defunct Finley Carter Funeral Home in Fort Myers. Police found it and four more long-dead babies, I believe, in a back room during a search. As in the Deutsch story, there was also a storage shed involved. A manager had said he smelled a strange odor coming from a shed that had been rented out by Finley Carter. He took a look and found, if my memory is correct, 13 rotting corpses, many of them in their Sunday best. The Florida summer heat had caused one of them to explode to
Jim Greenhill, my partner in crime at the time, and I wrote the hell out of that story. We found that Carter had picked up a crack cocaine habit and had simply lost control of his business. And when a mortician goes off the tracks, uniquely horrible things can happen. We found ties to some notorious drug dealers, including Ronnie Tape. (Sadly you can't get anything on the Web about Finley Carter or Ronnie Tape because the News-Press at that time wasn't hooked up to Nexis or anything Internet-wise). There were, in fact, all kinds of insane allegations that I can't repeat here.
So when I read Deutsch's story this morning about another mummified baby found in a suitcase in a storage shed, I wondered if there wasn't a mortician in the family. Or maybe it was some weird family heirloom, as in this Texas case (pictured above). Quite a mystery, really, considering the baby was wrapped in 1950s-era newspapers. Here's hoping they solve it.