by Andy Lyons
(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — Police responded to Pertle Springs Tuesday afternoon after two UCM students found the remains of an infant in a research cave.
Eva Gann and a fellow biology student were using the cave to study how snakes react to temperature changes while wintering in a cave. She said she filed a police report on Feb. 17 after discovering the lock on the cave had been broken off and found what she assumed was burned trash.
She returned to the cave Tuesday with fellow student Travis Lyon and noticed a foul smell in the cave.
“We went back (Tuesday) and it smelled like rotten meat coming from the burnt trash,” Gann said. “I saw what looked like a diaper so I started going through the trash bag with a stick and said to Travis, ‘This looks like (muscle) tissue.’”
Gann said she flipped the trash bag over and saw a foot and the hand of a baby.
“I thought it was a doll so I squeezed the foot and knew it was real,” Lyon said.
After making their discovery, Gann and Lyon left the cave and Gann called 911.
Gann initially reported the break-in on Feb. 17. She said a police officer met her on UCM’s campus to take a statement regarding the vandalism, and she provided them with pictures of the burnt trash. She said she and Lyon were not able to return to the cave due to the weather until Tuesday.
UCM Media Relations confirmed on Tuesday night that the body of an infant was found at Pertle Springs, which the university owns.
“Law enforcement personnel are investigating the matter,” UCM officials wrote in a news release. “No additional information is available at this time.”
Lyon said the last time they were at the cave, Feb. 17, they didn’t look through what they assumed was just trash and only collected data for Gann’s research.
“One of our snakes was wounded on the ground, so we assumed it was vandals,” Lyon said.
University officials are asking that anyone who has information that could assist in this investigation to contact the UCM Department of Public Safety at 660-543-4123.