When Will County investigators found 2,246 fetuses stored in boxes in abortion doctor Ulrich Klopfer’s Crete Township garage, many women who had been to one of Klopfer’s clinics likely asked themselves: Is one of those mine?
They may never know the answer.
On Tuesday, the office of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill released a preliminary report, saying the fetal remains are in poor condition and Klopfer, who died in September, kept “unreliable” records.
Because of that, “it is not possible to make an independent verification of the identities of the individual fetal remains,” according to the executive summary of the report.
The report goes on to say the remains were “mostly found inside molding boxes and Styrofoam coolers” and that each fetus was inside a “clear plastic specimen bag.”
“However, many of the bags had degraded over time and/or suffered damage, resulting in leakage from the individual bags into the outer bag, box or cooler,” according to the report.
Klopfer had abortion clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend. The Fort Wayne clinic closed in 2014; the other two clinics closed in 2015.
Investigators said the remains are from women who had abortions between 2000 and 2002. The new report says further investigation has shown the remains “appear to be from Dr. Klopfer’s medical practice in Indiana from the years 2000-2003.”
The remains were discovered by relatives going through Klopfer’s possessions after he died Sept. 3 at age 79. In all, investigators retrieved 71 boxes of fetal remains from Klopfer’s garage. Later, 165 remains were found in the trunk of one of Klopfer’s vehicles, parked in a Dolton garage.
Investigators have said they don’t know why Klopfer kept the remains. Asked last year whether Klopfer’s widow had any inkling, family attorney Kevin Bolger told the Chicago Sun-Times: “Every room in the house, except hers, was floor-to-ceiling junk. ... You couldn’t see out the windows.”
Indiana has custody of the fetal remains because it’s believed all the abortions were performed at Klopfer’s clinics in that state.
“From the time we first learned of the gruesome discovery of these remains, we have sought to exercise our statutory authority with great care and prudence,” Hill, the Indiana attorney general, said in a statement. “This case exemplifies the need for strong laws to ensure the dignified disposition of fetal remains, like those passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2016 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019.”
Authorities have estimated Klopfer performed tens of thousands of abortions during a career that spanned decades. Hill at one point called Klopfer one of the most “notorious abortionists in the history of Indiana.”
Klopfer previously had worked at a downtown Chicago facility that figured prominently in the Chicago Sun-Times/Better Government Association 1978 investigation: “The Abortion Profiteers.”
Asked if Indiana is still trying to find a way to identify the remains, a spokeswoman for Hill said: “These matters are still being considered and may be addressed in a future report.”
For now, she added, anyone who thinks they “may have a connection” to the fetal remains or medical records may contact the Indiana attorney general’s office by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (317) 234-6663.
A final report from in the coming months from Hill’s office, which intends to have the fetal remains “interred in a respectful and dignified manner in accordance with state law.”
Contributing: Stefano Esposito