PITTSBURGH (AP) – An ex-funeral director was charged Wednesday with abusing the corpses of 19 babies whose remains were found in the garage of his old home.

Robert B. Winston Jr., 61, will not face charges for the scores of dead fetuses, from stillbirths, miscarriages and abortions, authorities also found in the garage.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Tranquilli said the criminal charges involved babies that were born alive, but lived only briefly, and no more charges would be filed.

“I think this guy was basically involved in a downward spiral. He had lost his license, he was involved in a divorce,” Tranquilli said. “He has cooperated. I don’t think this is a situation where he is trying to deny responsibility for what he did.”

Winston, of McKeesport, had a contract with Magee-Womens Hospital to dispose of the fetuses and babies by having them cremated. Police say Winston accepted the hospital’s payments but didn’t turn over the remains for cremation because he was having financial trouble.

He also was charged with theft by deception. Winston’s attorney, James Ecker, said his client has cooperated with authorities but is innocent.

The remains were found in bags and plastic containers, with some commingled, after Winston’s ex-wife called police in August. Authorities said more than 300 fetuses were found.

The remains came from women treated at Magee-Womens from late 2000 through May 2002.

Tranquilli said Winston was paid $45 each to dispose of the remains of fetuses older than 16 gestational weeks, and $1 per pound to handle the others.

Hospital spokeswoman Jane Duffield said Magee officials are “comfortable that we did everything appropriate” with the remains, but declined to comment further.

Identifications have been made in all cases where it was possible, Chief Deputy Coroner Joseph Dominick said. Only the parents who contacted the office asking about the identities will be notified, he said, saying the privacy of the other parents would be respected.

Winston was freed on bond pending a preliminary hearing Nov. 7.


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