Crime & Courts

Dead fetus found in box on Arkansas River sandbar

Police say a woman at the Arkansas River on Sunday afternoon found a small box with a dead human fetus inside on a sandbar.

The fetus is thought to be 10 weeks gestation or younger, but the coroner will try to determine its exact age, Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred said during a Monday morning news briefing.

“We don’t believe it (the investigation) will be criminal, but we’re going to wait until the coroner provides us with a report and, of course, talk to the District Attorney’s Office once we gather all the information on this,” he said.

Anyone who knows who put the fetus in the box and why is asked to call police detectives at 316-268-4407.

Allred said the woman, 57, was by the river in the area of Skinner and Greenway when she spotted the box on a sandbar Sunday afternoon. That location is on the east river bank between Harry and Pawnee.

Officers responded to the area around 4:45 p.m.

“As they opened it (the box) they realized that there was some bloody material and a fetus inside,” Allred said.

A 10-week-old fetus is small at a little over an inch long, or about the size of a strawberry, according to pregnancy websites.

“This is a unique situation. We usually don’t see these, fortunately.”

Authorities took the fetus to the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center for an autopsy. Its age and how it died will determine how police proceed with their investigation, Allred said.

Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.