A construction crew discovered a dozen body parts, some with parts of a tattoo, inside a section of the Oakland Macomb Interceptor sewage line, east of Maple Lane, while they were doing routine maintenance work in the city's sewer Wednesday.
According to CBS News, the workers found the dozen pieces of human body parts while they were clearing debris in a sanitary sewer pile 50 feet below a busy suburban Detroit roadway in Sterling Heights. Boston.com reports the workers stumbled upon the parts at about 8:30 a.m., while working in a 9ft, 6 inch-wide pipe. They found mixed in with debris, what appeared to be 10 to 15 skin fragments "the size of softballs on the steel staging platform."
ABC News reports that Lt. Luke Riley of the Sterling Heights Police Department, said : "This morning, they (the workers) go down to begin their work and they get down to a large grate at the 50-foot level and they see the body laying down there.They call us, we go out and then get people down there to start the process of looking at them. There were maybe a dozen softball-sized pieces of a body."
According to CBS Detroit, Riley said: "They were not skeletal. Exactly what they are I can’t tell you at this point, but from the description of what they are, they definitely appear to be human and they don’t appear to have been there a tremendously long time."
Gene Schabath, Deputy Public Works Commissioner for Macomb County, described the parts as numerous "small parts" about 6 inches long.
CBS News reports investigators say the body parts couldn't have been in the sewer for long. According to Gene Schabath, every morning, workers shut the flow of water and debris from two lines to carry out repair and cleaning operations in the sewer. He said: "They were removing all the debris that accumulated ... under the debris were these body parts of various sizes."
According to Detroit News, Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office was called to the scene to collect the remains and will conduct an autopsy to determine the identity and possible cause of death.
Riley revealed that some of the body parts had a tattoo on them and that investigators are hoping this may help them identify the body. Police are using the tattoo to reconstruct the body parts. Although it is not yeat clear what the tattoo represents, police have already fitted two pieces together.
According to Riley, "At least six or eight of these pieces had part of a tattoo on them. Once the medical examiner collected them he was able to clean things up and take a look at them and with photographs of these pieces we can tell it's a tattoo. We can't tell what it's a tattoo of, but there are two pieces that match up – it's like a puzzle and we don't have all the pieces to it."
A photo of the tattoo was provided ot the media (see above). The police ask that anyone who recognizes the tattoo should contact them.
The Inquisitr reports officials are also looking at missing person reports as part of efforts to identify the body.
The police say the parts must have flowed to the location near 15 Mile Road and Schoenher Road from two lines in nearby Macomb County and Oakland County. Officials say that the exact point at which they were dumped is uncertain. Gene Schabath explained that there are over 100 different manholes that could have been used to dispose of the parts.
The same construction crew had worked at the site on Tuesday and did not see any body until Wednesday morning.
The section of the sewer line where the body parts were found was closed down Wednesday for several hours. The lines were reopened on the same day to prevent a backup into homes.
Riley commended the construction crew that found the body for having acted "very professionally." He said: "They knew the seriousness of the situation. They were very professional about it. They didn't, you know, lose it or anything like that."
ABC News reports that the torsos of a man and woman were also found in July in the Detroit River and a canal leading into the waterway in Detroit. According to CBS, the bodies were identified as an Allen Park couple. A man who was a guest of the couple was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the case.