Billings Woman Seeks to Exhume Baby Sister 82 Years Later

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A Billings woman whose baby sister was stillborn back in 1940 is searching for the body, but investigators say there may not be much left.

Claire Paulsen was eight years old when her mother told her the location of her deceased baby sister, who was buried on her Grandparent’s homestead halfway between Broadview and Lativa. She told KPAX:

“My mom and I were standing up at the house and she told me about it and pointed right down here to this corner….My mom had a stillborn baby back in 1940. She was born in Billings. The hospital wrapped that baby in a blanket and gave it to my dad. And he came out here to the homestead place where his folks lived. And he and my grandpa just wrapped that baby in a blanket and buried it in the corner of the garden.”

Paulsen was given a bit of help from the Golden Valley Sheriff’s Office and Western Montana Search Dogs, a nonprofit organization based in Gallatin County, Montana, dedicated to providing certified search dog teams to requesting agencies. They joined her on the property to help her look, though the odds of finding any remains are bleak.

“(Babies’) bones are so soft when they’re born and they don’t start getting brittle ’til their toddler age, and so they tell me there’s not going to be anything of that body left. We might find a tattering of the blanket.”

If found, Paulsen plans to bury whatever remains on their family plot, along with the ashes of her brother who passed away in 2009.

“(The baby) was a girl and my mom named her Bess after my mother’s mom who died when mom was only five. So when I do the tombstone, I’m just going to put ‘Baby Bess’ on that.”




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