Updated at 2:42 p.m. Thursday
More than 2,200 medically preserved fetal remains were found in some 70 cardboard boxes stacked inside the garage of a Crete Township home, Will County officials revealed Thursday.
Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said it took 50 detectives to go through boxes at home of the late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who died Sept. 3. It’s the first time Will County officials have spoken publicly since the remains were discovered Sept. 12.
Klopfer was a longtime doctor at a South Bend abortion clinic that closed after the state revoked the clinic’s license in 2015. The remains are all suspected to be from abortion clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend, Indiana, from 2000 to 2002, officials said.
"Without being able to talk to [Klopfer], it's kind of tough for us to even speculate what his motivation for even bringing [the fetuses] there," Kelley said.
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said the remains will be transferred to Indiana authorities.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, said he wants the fetal remains to have a proper burial in Indiana.
"The bodies of these children should be returned to their homes. Return them home and put them in a burial place so that their mothers can visit them if they wish and be with them."
Indiana authorities will now lead the investigation.
“The grisly discovery of these fetal remains at the Illinois home of a deceased abortion doctor shocks the conscience,” Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in an earlier statement. “Further, we have reason to believe there is an Indiana connection to these remains.”
The Indiana State Department of Health had previously issued complaints against the clinic, accusing it of lacking a registry of patients, policies regarding medical abortion, and a governing body to determine policies.
The state agency also accused the clinic of failing to document that patients get state-mandated education at least 18 hours before an abortion.
In June 2014, Klopfer was charged in St. Joseph County with a misdemeanor for failure to file a timely public report. He was accused of waiting months to report an abortion he provided to a 13-year-old girl in South Bend. That charge was later dropped after Klopfer completed a pre-trial diversion program.
Indiana investigation continues
Earlier Thursday, Indiana authorities searched two shuttered abortion clinics that were once operated by Klopfer. No fetal remains were found at those locations, said St. Joseph County (Ind.) Prosecutor Ken Cotter.
Cotter said authorities also searched a vacant lot in South Bend that's possibly connected to the shuttered clinic to determine whether or not fetal remains were buried there. Cadaver dogs searched that lot and no remains were found, he said, adding that the investigation of both properties is ongoing.
The Indiana attorney general's office is reviewing whether medical records at the shuttered South Bend clinic had been properly disposed of and reviewed.