Six human heads and 12 tubs of body parts are in a Kansas City, Kan., morgue and for now, they are Wyandotte County Coroner Alan Hancock's problem.
And his mystery. Kansas City, Kan., police say no local crime was committed, so they are not investigating. Police in Albuquerque, N.M., where the body parts originated, also won't start an investigation.
Hancock is not pleased.
"It seems like a crime to me," he said. "Maybe it wouldn't be a crime if I shipped them back."
Hancock explained how the situation took shape about two weeks ago:
Employees at a medical waste disposal company, Stericycle in Kansas City, Kan., found they had partially incinerated a head and torso, which had been sent to them in a sealed bag.
They called police, who thought they were dealing with a murder. They sent the head off to anthropologists, who said it was from a 70- to 80-year-old man.
Stericycle workers said the shipment might have come from an Albuquerque company called BioCare and that another shipment from that company was coming. According to BioCare's Web site, the company is a nonprofit that allows people to donate their bodies to science. It says it returns cremated remains to families who want them.
Kansas City, Kan., police examined the new shipment marked from BioCare. They found six more heads and what is now the 12 tubs full of parts like torsos, arms, legs and pelvises.
Because some of the bodies were tagged, Hancock said, he has identified three people among the seven bodies and all seem to be older people who probably died from natural causes.
He has death certificates for three, but . . .
"All three say they were cremated and they're not — they're here in my freezer," he said. "Is it perfectly OK to falsify death certificates . . .?"
Read more of this mystery at KansasCity.com