A parcel delivery company in Thailand put three packages bound for the United States through a routine X-ray and made a startling discovery: five preserved human parts, including an infant’s head, a baby’s foot and a heart.
The body parts, it seems, were in fact stolen from the medical museums of one of Bangkok’s biggest hospitals, its administrators said yesterday. Two of them belonged to the department of anatomy and the other three to the department of forensic medicine.
The parts were stored in plastic containers filled with formaldehyde, wrapped and addressed to Las Vegas. Police Colonel Chumpol Poompuang said the sender was a 31-year-old American tourist, Ryan McPherson, who told them he had found the items at a Bangkok night market.
Police tracked down Mr McPherson after being alerted by the shipper, DHL.
“He said he thought the body parts were bizarre and wanted to send them to his friends in the US,” Mr Chumpol said, adding that the man was questioned on Saturday along with an American friend for several hours and released without charge.
It apparently was not the first brush with notoriety for Mr McPherson and his friend, identified by police as Daniel Tanner, 33. Photos of the two talking with police closely resemble men by the same names and ages who were producers over a decade ago of a video series featuring homeless people brawling and performing dangerous stunts after being paid by the filmmakers, who were based in Las Vegas.
Mr McPherson and Mr Tanner left Thailand for Cambodia on Sunday, and could not be contacted for comment.
The seized packages were labelled as toys, police said. They were contacting the FBI to get information about the would-be recipients.
Clinical professor Udom Kachintorn, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, said that the Americans visited the museum last Thursday, but that CCTV did not show them taking any items away.
Two of the parts were pieces of tattooed adult skin – one with a jumping tiger and the other bearing an ancient Asian script. In some Thai cults, spiritual tattoos are believed to give the owners protection from evil.