ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It's a story that started at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in 1965. That's when renowned gospel singer Zella Jackson-Price was told her daughter Melanie Diane died at birth. Fast forward to April of 2015 when Price has a reunion that leaves her and her 50-year-old daughter Melanie Gilmore stunned and dealing with unanswered questions. The now closed hospital was once known as a haven for black families and doctors in St. Louis.
On Monday, the family filed lawsuit in St. Louis City Circuit Court asking the city and State of Missouri to release adoption papers and information on the hospital. According to the suit Price never signed her child away -- and the number of potential cases continues to grow. Family attorney Albert Watkins says the city, state and federal government are assisting in the case.
"We're talking about older black women in St. Louis in their 70s and 80s in their waning years just trying to get answers to questions that have been burning in their heart," said Watkins.
Attorneys say the 20 new cases were similar and span from the 1950's to the mid 70's. Watkins adds that all of the mothers were young African-American women who arrived at the hospital alone, all of them without family.
"The credibility that the women present and what they say and describe in their cases along with nuances that are similar to Mrs. Price that have not been disclosed publicly. These people are all around the country and a lot of them were victimized. We want to make sure that this message gets out. You cannot separate a baby from a mother you can't play god and you can't do it for money," Watkins said.
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