Ex-Funeral Director Pleads Guilty to Theft After 19 Babies Found in His Garage

An ex-funeral director who stored the corpses of 19 babies in bags and plastic containers in his garage pleaded guilty to theft and abusing a corpse.

Prosecutors withdrew 18 counts of abuse of a corpse against Robert B. Winston Jr., 62, of McKeesport, saying the case essentially involved theft because Winston was paid to have the remains cremated.

In pleading guilty Monday to the remaining charges, Winston agreed to pay $8,910 in restitution for not properly disposing of the bodies.

Prosecutor Janet Necessary said she expects Winston will receive probation when he is sentenced Sept. 6.

The remains came from women treated at Magee-Womens Hospital from late 2000 through May 2002. Prosecutors said Winston was paid $45 to dispose of the remains of each fetus older than 16 gestational weeks and $1 a pound to handle the others.

His divorce and financial problems led him to store the remains in his garage after he accepted payment from Magee-Womens, prosecutors said.

The remains — the result of miscarriages and abortions — were found after Winston's ex-wife called police in August 2005. Authorities said more than 300 fetuses were found.

Winston's attorney, James Ecker, said it was a "fair deal" for his client to accept limited responsibility for one of the corpses.

"He didn't abuse the corpse. He didn't stab the corpse," Ecker said. "The fetuses were given to him by the hospital to get rid of. As far as their parents were concerned, their children were already gone."

Prosecutors said several of the parents have lawsuits pending against Winston and the hospital.