A Colorado woman was arrested earlier this week after she allegedly attempted to smuggle the remains of stillborn children through the San Francisco airport to the United Kingdom.
According to KPIX-TV, the suspect was identified as Emily Suzanne Cain of Canon City, Colorado. Authorities say that Cain had three fetuses dating from the 1920s, as well as a fetal skeleton to a buyer she located online through Facebook.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Cain, she represented to the buyers that she had obtained the remains through a university's lab collection, and ultimately found a buyer who paid $20,000 for the grisly connection. Administration officials from Creighton University confirmed to authorities that the remains were donated to the university's anatomy department in the 1920s and 1930s after the children were stillborn.
It is not clear how Cain obtained the remains from the university. It is likewise unclear what the prospective buyer intended to use the remains for.
Authorities say that Cain initially mailed the package containing the remains from a post office in Colorado to the San Francisco airport with a label that indicated that the package contained "school teaching aids and t-shirts." Cain then allegedly met the package in San Francisco and attempted to mail it to the buyer in the U.K., but customs officials x-rayed the package, whereupon they discovered that it appeared to contain a "human shape."
They opened the package and found inside the remains, a t-shirt, and a handwritten note that apologized for the delay in sending the package. Authorities say they found Cain's fingerprints on the t-shirt, the note, and the box that contained the remains.
Cain was arrested in Fort Collins, Colorado, and appeared in court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to federal charges prohibiting the transfer of fetal remains.
One Facebook exchange relayed in the charging documents, indicated that this may not have been the first time Cain has illegally sold fetal remains. According to the indictment, Cain told her prospective buyer, "I'm always happy to show you. Please never hesitate to check in with me and see what we have. We don't always post publicly. Especially with pieces like these." She described the remains as "too controversial to be up for everyone to see. I try to keep them for special clients and others we know may have interest in them."
According to KTLA-TV, Cain was released on a $5,000 bond and fitted with a GPS monitor. She is due back in court on Nov. 20.