JOLIET — The preserved fetuses, thousands of them, were sealed in plastic bags, inside dozens of boxes crammed into a very cluttered garage at the Will County home of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who died earlier this month.
That much, authorities know. But they still don’t know why.
Relatives of Klopfer have been fully cooperative, investigators said Thursday at a news conference.
After Klopfer died, the fetuses — more than 2,200 — were discovered at his home in unincorporated Will County.
Each fetus was labeled, in a plastic bag filled with a preservative called Formalin. In all, they filled 70 cardboard boxes.
Those boxes were mixed in among “hundreds and hundreds” of other boxes, packed floor-to-ceiling in the garage, Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said.
“In the 31 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen anything like this, ever,” Kelley said. In all, 50 personnel from various agencies had helped go through the house.
“It doesn’t sound like he was trying to” hide anything, said Kelley.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said there was no evidence any of abortions performed on the property, in eastern Will County, near the Indiana state line.
Kelley said dates on the bags indicated the fetuses were aborted between 2000 and 2002. Abortion clinics operated by Klopfer in Indiana were open during those years, he said.
Investigators wouldn’t say what other information was on those labels.
“There are private aspects that would bar us from talking about that,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow.
“This is still an open investigation,” he added; though his work in Will County on the case likely is over, he said, he will be cooperating with Indiana officials.
Earlier Thursday, authorities in Indiana searched two shuttered abortion clinics once operated by Klopfer.
The St. Joseph County (Ind.) prosecutor said authorities found no fetal remains during a search of a shuttered South Bend abortion clinic once operated by Klopfer.
Prosecutor Ken Cotter said police, prosecutors and members of the Indiana attorney general’s office served a search warrant Thursday morning at the former South Bend abortion clinic where Klopfer had performed abortions.
Cotter said during a news conference outside the building that boxes of medical records were found inside, but that “based on what we have seen so far there are no fetal remains here.”
He says a vacant lot was also searched in the city. Cotter says the investigation at those properties is ongoing.
A police spokeswoman in Fort Wayne, Ind., police told The Journal Gazette newspaper that city police assisted the Indiana attorney general’s office in obtaining a warrant for the search of another former clinic where Klopfer once performed abortions.
WANE-TV showed footage of Fort Wayne officers near the doorway and in the parking lot outside that building beyond a line of police caution tape.
Police spokeswoman Sofia Rosales-Scatena says she doesn’t know what officers found there or what they were looking for.
Klopfer also had operated a clinic in Gary, Indiana.
Contributing: Associated Press