Nearly 20 women who were told their babies had died in a St. Louis hospital have contacted a lawyer after a woman was reunited with her daughter, 49 years after a nurse told her the child had died.
Attorney Albert Watkins said the women reached out for him after of Zella Jackson Price, 76, and her daughter, Melanie Diane Gilmore were reunited.
Watkins filed a petition Monday in St Louis Circuit Court, seeking access to court files and adoption records at the since-closed Homer G. Phillips Hospital, hoping to uncover any information "that would explain the genesis of Baby Diane."
Many of the women told stories strikingly similar to Price’s experience and they fear that their babies had been taken.
Watkins said he believes the babies were indeed taken and sold to adoptive parents. He has asked Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to launch investigations.
An FBI spokeswoman Rebecca Wu said that the agency is aware of allegations but refused to say whether the FBI has opened a human trafficking investigation.
Price and Gilmore reunited last month after Gilmore's granddaughter tracked down her birth mother based on a birth certificate. DNA testing confirmed with near 100-percent likelihood that Price was Gilmore's mother.
Several women who have contacted Watkins gathered Monday in his office, including Brenda Stewart. She was 16 and unmarried when she gave birth to a seemingly healthy girl on June 24, 1964. She cried as she recalled when a nurse told her the baby had died.
"They told me I didn't need a baby," Stewart said. "I was too young to have a baby. They told me my parents didn't need another mouth to feed.
"I know my baby's not dead," she said.