Investigators looking into hospital accused of stealing babies from young mothers

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) – Authorities are looking into a now closed St. Louis hospital that is suspected of stealing babies shortly after they were born.

It’s a story that gripped the nation last month.

Nearly 50 years after being told her daughter had died at birth, Zella Price was reunited with the child she never met, Melanie Diane Gilmore.

This story begins at the old Homer G. Phillips Hospital. Shortly after delivering her baby, Zella Price was told the infant died. But Melanie was alive and for some unknown reason, adopted by another family.

The attorney for Zella Price filed a lawsuit on Monday, asking the court to open all court files and adoption records for Melanie Diane Gilmore.

Al Watkins, the attorney on the case, confirmed that a human trafficking investigator with the Department of Justice is looking into the hospital.

According to KTVI, attorneys say 20 other cases were similar to Price’s and span from the 1950s to the mid 1970s.

Watkins says all of the women were African-American and arrived at the hospital alone.

After being told of the death, none of the women received a death certificate or were allowed to see the baby’s body.

Now, the women are working to find out if the hospital was stealing babies shortly after they were born.

“I didn’t know enough to ask questions,” Leatrice Barry told KSDK.

Barry gave birth when she was 21-years-old and was told the baby lived just nine hours before dying.

“If she’s alive, that’s going to hurt because I would have missed 53 years of her life or however long this takes,” she said.

“You trust the hospitals, you trust the doctors, you trust the nurses and then you come to find out these kind of episodes could possibly happen, and you know that you’re a victim,” said Maria Ramza-Gay.

Ramza-Gay said her deceased mother gave birth to a baby girl, Janice Marie Dennis, in 1946 or 1947. Like other women who have come forward, she says her mother was told the baby died, but no death certificate was provided.

Brenda Stewart is convinced her baby girl was stolen and is still alive.

“Why? Because I was 16-years-old? Because I was a teenager, you had the right just to take my baby?” said Stewart. “It’ll be 51 years the 21st of next month. I’ve been waiting to know about my baby and I just do not believe she’s dead.”

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