Residents Discover Human Fetus Remains in Basement, Two Arrested

Two women have been arrested after the remains of a human fetus were found in the basement of a New Jersey home, according to authorities.

The Wayne Police Department (WPD) said in a Wednesday Facebook post that Nicole Tsentas, 33, from Emerson, and Amanda Walker, 36, from Wayne, were arrested on Monday, May 9, in connection with the discovery.

According to the release, both women were charged with disturbing, desecrating human remains, a second-degree crime.

New Jersey defines that a crime has been committed "if, he unlawfully disturbs, moves or conceals human remains."

Amanda Walker and Nicole Tsentas mugshots
Amanda Walker, 36, (left) and Nicole Tsentas, 33, after they were arrested. The human fetus was found in a storage container. Police handout

Police were alerted to the grisly discovery after residents at a home in Wayne discovered the remains in a storage container in their basement at about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, May 8.

During their investigation, police learned Tsentas had given birth in July 2020. Tsentas told authorities the baby was not moving or breathing.

The police statement read: "She then took the baby to her home, wrapped it in a blanket and placed it in her closet.

"Sometime thereafter, Ms. Tsentas confided in Ms. Walker about the baby. Ms. Walker assisted Ms. Tsentas in moving the fetus to the residence in Wayne and placed the fetus in a storage container in the basement.

"When Ms. Tsentas asked for the storage container, the residents of the home retrieved it from the basement and discovered the fetus inside."

More than 1,400 newborns have been found abandoned in the U.S. since 1999, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance, a U.S. organisation which aims to offer alternatives for parents thinking of abandoning their babies.

A further 3,500 newborns have been surrendered through the so-called "safe haven law" since the first measure took effect in Texas in the same year.

The law typically allows unharmed children under three weeks of age to be anonymously handed into a fire station, hospital or other designated place.

The Medical Examiner's Office has taken custody of the remains and will release the results pending an autopsy.

Both women are scheduled to appear at Central Judicial Processing on Friday, May 13, and the state has filed a motion for pretrial detention.

Anyone with information has asked to contact the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office on 1-877-370-PCPO or tips@passaiccountynj.org or contact the Wayne Police Detective Bureau at 973-694-0600.

Newsweek has contacted the WPD for comment.

Sadly, there have been numerous cases where the remains of human fetuses have been found by bystanders.

Last year, the remains of a fetus were found inside a backpack that was left in a dumpster behind a Virginia shopping center.

The teenager who put the backpack in the dumpster was later identified by police but they did not release any further information about her as she was under 18.

A similar incident happened in Natchez, Mississippi, after the remains of a human fetus was found in a storage unit.

James Lee with the Adams County coroner said he estimated the gestational age of the fetus to be between 16 and 24 weeks old.