Exhumation of 3 infants begins in Martin County

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 04:15:59-05

A forensic anthropologist, Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney, and her team from Florida Gulf Coast University plan to work well into the night, exhuming the bodies of three unidentified infants at Fernhill Memorial Gardens in Stuart.

The team is in town to help the Martin County Sheriff's Office solve the "Baby Moses" cold case from the 80s. 

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't optimistic," said Walsh-Haney. 

According to detectives, an unidentified baby was found dead by boaters in the St. Lucie River in 1983.  They dubbed him "Baby Moses."  

Now, the sheriff's office is hoping new DNA technology will help solve the case, which was never closed.  

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said they have to exhume three babies, because it's unclear which one is Baby Moses. 

"It's been my experience that cemetery practices from the 60s, 70s, and 80s were not of the same standard that we have today," said Walsh-Haney. 

Her team brought in state of the art technology to help mark, sift, peel and dig.  Their goal is to work as meticulously as needed to preserve any evidence that might be buried in the soil. They will bring the remains to a lab and then send the bones to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The DNA testing could take several months. 

Snyder said determining which baby is the one they are looking for is not an easy task. 

"The worst case scenario for us is that these three infants are all in the same age group, that they are very young newborns," said Snyder. 

The team test the soil for any discoloration, which would help determine whether the babies were in caskets of boxes.  After a look, the sheriff said they have good reason to believe they were in them. 

"It's a good thing for us because if the bodies are in styrofoam or in a box that means the bones should all be there," he said.