Donated skulls in Washington state lead to more human remains

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 21, 2014 5:26 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Authorities in Washington state were looking for a person who donated three human skulls to a thrift store last month, and said on Monday their pleas for information had instead prompted the handover of yet more human remains.

The Seattle and King County Medical Examiner said they were hoping to speak with the person who left behind the three skulls at a Goodwill store in Bellevue in the hopes of learning the origin of the remains.

One of the skulls was more than 100 years old and appears to be the fragile remains of a Native American child, said medical examiner spokesman Keith Seinfeld. The two others were adult specimens used in a medical clinic or for instruction, officials said.

"We have issued this plea for information, particularly in regard to the Native American child so we can return it to the tribe from which it came," he said.

In Washington state, the law requires that Native American skulls must be returned to their tribe of origin for burial.

Though there has been no breakthrough on the source of the Goodwill donations, the public information campaign has netted calls from three other individuals wanting to hand over human skulls in their possession, Seinfeld said.

Two of those skulls are Native American and the third a clinical specimen, he said.

Seinfeld said it was not completely unusual for private citizens to obtain or inherit skeletal remains, but he urged those who have such human remains in their possession to turn them over to authorities without penalty.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)