CoxHealth investigating possible theft of Springfield's couple's stillborn baby from hospital morgue

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A Springfield couple mourning the loss of their stillborn son says CoxHealth cannot find the baby's remains.

Brianna and Kyle Dudley gave birth to a baby boy nearly four months earlier than the due date. But sadly, doctors found no heartbeat, and their son, Lucas was stillborn.

The Dudley's left Lucas with the staff at Cox South Hospital, signing papers agreeing to genetic testing and an autopsy. They wanted to figure out what went wrong. They got a call about a week later, saying the hospital had information about their son. But it was far from anything they ever expected. The Dudleys say multiple hospital officials sat them down and showed them a video of a man in a hoodie wearing dark sunglasses going into the morgue and walking out with a bulge in his pocket. They believed it was Lucas's body. The hospital discovered his body missing on November 14. They told the Dudleys two days later.

Cox Health would not do a interview, but sent us a statement saying they immediately started an internal investigation. And once they discovered the suspicious activity, they called in police.

Hospital officials told the Dudleys they knew the man's name, and he was contracted to work for the hospital in some way, transporting human remains. But they would not give them his name.

Brianna and Kyle Dudley have now hired an attorney, and CoxHealth's risk manager told him it could have been a processing issue. But the Dudleys still have no answers.

"Lucas didn't deserve this," said the Dudleys. "We didn't deserve this, and for somebody to just do something like this is beyond me, because it's a baby. And it makes me wonder if it's this easy for somebody to take a body under hospital care, how easy is it for somebody to get into a nursery?"

The Dudleys say they just want answers and closure, though they don't know if they'll ever see their son's body again. Springfield police are investigating, and say they're not yet ready to talk about the ongoing investigation. CoxHealth says it is "continuing its own exhaustive internal review to more deeply explore policies, practices, video footage and any other additional information that might be helpful in the police investigation."

Read the entire CoxHealth statement below:

"On Nov. 14, we became aware that the remains of a stillborn infant were unaccounted for in the morgue at Cox South.

Our staff immediately began an internal investigation of the situation. After reviewing video and other information, suspicious activity was identified that caused us to notify law enforcement for investigation.

We have turned the matter over to the Springfield Police Department, which is conducting an investigation. CoxHealth is also continuing its own exhaustive internal review to more deeply explore policies, practices, video footage and any other additional information that might be helpful in the police investigation.

As soon as law enforcement’s investigation permitted, CoxHealth’s leadership team met with the family to share information related to this incident. Because this is an ongoing investigation and a law enforcement matter, we are unable to provide additional information at this point."

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.