In 1980 Malvin Weisberg, who lived in an upscale neighborhood in Woodland Hills, on the western side of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, began making payments on a large (20’x8’x8’) land/sea storage container from the Martin Container company in Wilmington. Weisberg supposedly needed the steel box to store tennis court lights.

Weisberg defaulted on his payments for the container until finally the Martin company came on February 3, 1982 to repossess the large box.

On February 4, when workers opened the doors to the steel box, now parked in the container yard in Wilmington, they were overwhelmed with the stench of decaying human flesh. When they looked inside, they saw bodies strewn among open boxes and plastic buckets. One worker described the scene as a “war zone” and reported watching a headless body tumble forward.

Martin Container employees called the Los Angeles County health department, which began transferring bodies to the county coroner’s office. At the coroner’s office, just west of the L.A. County/USC Medical Center, Dr. Eva Hauser, assisted by Dr. Joseph Wood, weighed, measured and performed autopsies on at least 43 of the larger infant bodies. Some had been dead for more than two years. Some were at least 30 weeks old. All were severely mutilated through salt poisoning or dismemberment with surgical knives. The smell, the buzz of flies, and the sight of mangled infant bodies made the autopsy procedure difficult for the doctors. Many of the bodies still had labels that identified the abortionists.

Since Los Angeles County now had possession of the bodies, the county had to decide how to dispose of them. The Feminist Women’s Health Center, an abortion business, and the ACLU filed suit to have the babies’ bodies incinerated, rather than buried.

The Los Angeles County board of supervisors, led by supervisor Michael Antonovich, requested burial. President Ronald Reagan sent a letter to decry the killing of these children and to encourage a memorial service. On May 30 state senators David Roberti and Alex Garcia, county supervisors Antonovich and Deane Dana, Dr. Gerald Navarre, and Martin Container employee Hank Stolk held a press conference to urge Los Angeles district attorney John Van de Kamp to release the bodies for burial.

During the news conference photos of many of the aborted babies were shown to the media. Several reporters became hostile and alleged that the photos were illegal. Incensed by the reporter’s lack of compassion, Roberti shouted, “They took pictures at Auschwitz” and then accused reporters of “convoluted morality.”

After a lengthy court battle between Los Angeles County and the abortion industry, the 16,433 bodies were crammed into several large pine boxes and buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles on October 6, 1985.

President Reagan provided a written eulogy for the burial, but he had already written poignantly in 1982, “The terrible irony about this sudden discovery is not that so many human lives were legally aborted, but that they are only a tiny proportion of the 1.5 million unborn children quietly destroyed in our nation this year. This is the truth many would rather not face.”

First of six-part series from 2012. Subsequent parts to be published on next five Saturdays: May 30, June 6, June 13, June 20, June 27.

Watch video on the Weisberg Incident.