Doctors unable to reattach guillotine-severed arm

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2011 4:01 PM
Doctors unable to reattach guillotine-severed arm

Doctors were unable to reattach the right arm of a mentally ill man who severed his limb with a homemade guillotine in October at a transient camp in Bellingham.

At the time, officials did not say if attempts to reattach the arm were successful. Police disclosed the information Wednesday in response to a records request from The Associated Press.

The 32-year-old man remains in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson could say only he was in satisfactory condition Thursday. His name has not been released.

There is no criminal case for the self-inflicted amputation, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.

The guillotine was taken apart and the pieces thrown away.

"This guy really spent some time on this project, which indicates his mental demeanor, constructing this beast of a machine," Young said Thursday.

The police reports indicate how bizarre and disturbing it was to discover a 16-foot-tall guillotine in a transient camp just before Halloween where an officer found the severed arm. The lumber alone weighed nearly 700 pounds. The cutting blade was a 60-pound utility cover that had been filed sharp on one side.

The man had been seen sleeping the day before in bushes near a medical clinic. Employees told him he needed to move along. He came back several times Oct. 27 asking for the time or asking to use the restroom before he walked in without his arm.

He was rushed to a Bellingham hospital while police and firefighters went looking for the arm.

The man refused to cooperate with doctors.

"He was swearing and cursing at them, not telling them where his arm was or how it was removed," the police report states. "He told them he was no snitch and would not tell them."

He made references to the Bible and said, "It is better to lose that part than one's soul," the report states.

Police found the arm at the guillotine in a wooded area near the clinic. Fire department medics took it to St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham. He was later transferred to the Seattle hospital.

Officers also found tape, gauze and antibiotic cream near the guillotine. They thought the man had applied a tourniquet before dropping the blade.