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Mummy remains shelved in police evidence room

Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan)
BYLINE: JESSE DUNSMORE

Port Huron, MI

Entombed among evidence bags and found items in the Port Huron Police Department property room sits some-thing a lot older than a stolen car stereo. A mummy with a story that caught the interest of people worldwide remains in the room -- evidence from a 2006 case.  "We've got a lot of interesting things in that property room," Capt. Jim Jones said, "but I've got to say that's probably tops in the unusual category."

Police confiscated the 200-year-old preserved medical cadaver from a Port Huron woman in 2006 after a medical student from another state reported seeing it for sale on e-Bay, said Sgt. Duane Loxton, who handled the case as a detective. It is illegal to possess a human body without permission, but no charges were filed.

Port Huron resident Lynn Sterling told police she had been trying to sell it for a friend, Terry Fadina, who discovered it while demolishing a schoolhouse in Detroit in the 1980s.

The dissected, hollowed-out and never-wrapped cadaver doesn't look a thing like the image popularized by movies. The body, with its exposed arteries colored red for use in medical studies, rests on a top shelf of a rack containing evidence bags. The box is securely taped shut, and marked with arrows labeled "This side up." "It's not getting opened until we figure out who it belongs to," Loxton said.

It was packaged like that by an anthropology lab at Michigan State University, where Loxton and county medical examiner Mary Palmateer had it identified as part of the Burns Collection, a Scottish collection of anatomical speci-mens, the rest of which is kept at the University of Maryland. According to police reports, the university told PHPD the mummy was stolen years ago. Loxton and Palmateer are both well aware of the unusual nature of the case. "It's not something you deal with every day," Loxton said.

"When I got the first call (from police), I was like, 'You've got a what?'" Palmateer said. Both said following the original story's publication in the Times Herald, reporters nationwide began calling them.

Palmateer said there were no claims made on the mummy, but from discussions with the University of Maryland, she believes the school may claim it soon. Until the case is wrapped up, though the mummy will remain with the department, Loxton said. "Where else would you put something like that?" he said.

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