Last updated: March 06. 2014 3:15PM - 2118 Views
By - ncooke@civitasmedia.com



Nicole Cooke | Democrat The small door to a research cave at Pertle Springs, located a few miles south of the University of Central Missouri campus, can be seen behind police tape Wednesday morning after the body of an infant was found inside the cave Tuesday afternoon by two UCM biology students.
Nicole Cooke | Democrat The small door to a research cave at Pertle Springs, located a few miles south of the University of Central Missouri campus, can be seen behind police tape Wednesday morning after the body of an infant was found inside the cave Tuesday afternoon by two UCM biology students.
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WARRENSBURG — An autopsy performed by the Warrensburg Police Department on Wednesday determined the body of an infant found in a cave at Pertle Springs near the University of Central Missouri is Caucasian and was possibly born within the last few weeks.


Investigators are asking for any information about a near full-term pregnant woman who planned to give birth sometime in the February to early March 2014 time-frame and may have had suspicious circumstances surrounding the birth. Jeff Murphy, Assistant Director of UCM Media Relations, said law enforcement officials “still don’t have any idea on when the infant was born.”


The UCM Department of Public Safety is taking the lead on the investigation, working with the Warrensburg Police Department. As of Thursday afternoon, there were no plans to bring in additional assistance, including the Missouri Rural Major Case Squad.


“At this time the UCM Department of Public Safety Police Unit will be working closely with the Warrensburg Police Department to conduct the investigation,” Murphy said. “If additional investigative resources are needed they will call in law enforcement personnel from other areas.”


The race of the infant and the possible circumstances surrounding the mother were the only information released from the autopsy. Information about the gender is still not available.


“As new information is known we’ll be sending out updates in the future,” Murphy said. “This investigation could take days, weeks or even months, so at this time I don’t know when additional updates will be forthcoming.”


Two UCM biology students, Eva Gann and Travis Lyon, were conducting research late Tuesday afternoon in a research cave at Pertle Springs, a public recreational area owned by UCM in Warrensburg located a few miles south of the campus, when they discovered the infant remains inside the cave.


The discovery was reported Tuesday, but Gann had also made a report to Public Safety on Feb. 17 regarding vandalism at the cave.


According to the UCM Incident Report, Gann reported to Public Safety at 4:53 p.m. Feb. 17 that “person(s) unknown had caused damage to the biology department’s research cave located at Pertle Springs by damaging the lock and burning a small fire inside the cave.” The report did not indicate if Public Safety investigated the area.


Gann and Lyon told the Muleskinner, UCM’s student newspaper, they noticed the lock had been broken on a door securing the cave and there was a trash bag inside filled with what they assumed at the time was burned trash. The students had not returned to the cave until Tuesday due to the weather, and upon returning the pair noticed a foul smell.


Upon further investigation they found what appeared to be human remains inside the trash bag and then notified authorities.


Murphy said he wasn’t sure how many calls the UCM Department of Public Safety or the Warrensburg Police Department had received, but that officials were hoping the updated information would help generate leads from the public.


Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the confidential hotline at 543-4400, or they may use the confidential online form, ucmo.edu/tips.

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