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September 27, 2013

More body parts found in sewer

Findings eerily similar to human tissue recovered in Warren, Sterling Heights last year

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — It’s a macabre mystery, one that deepened Sept. 25 when Sterling Heights police said a contractor found more human tissue in a sewer system that runs from 15 Mile Road south through the city of Warren. 

According to a release by the Sterling Heights Police Department, the find was similar to previous discoveries in Sterling Heights last August and in Warren Dec. 20.

In all three cases, no vital organs, appendages, bones or skulls were found. Police said contractors employed by Inland Waters Pollution Control were working on repairs in the Oakland-Macomb Interceptor — a system tied into hundreds of sanitary sewer lines from more than 20 communities — when they found the cut pieces of human flesh on an underground grate.

Sterling Heights police said the tissue came from a Caucasian and that the materials would be sent to the office of the Macomb County Medical Examiner for further investigation. Samples of DNA will also be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. The lab should be able to determine if the DNA from the most recently recovered tissue matches what was found previously.

In March, Warren police confirmed that fragments found on a sewer grate under the Edison Corridor west of Schoenherr and north of 10 Mile Road, and the tattooed flesh found in the interceptor near 15 Mile and Dodge Park in Sterling Heights, came from two different white women.

Unable to find a DNA match in the national database to positively identify the women, Warren Police Lt. Heidi Metz said detectives unsuccessfully tried to identify the tattoo by consulting experts who view and display tattoo work nationally.

“We heard nothing,” Metz said. 

The eerily consistent condition of the recovered tissue led Sterling Heights police to suspect that a “strong possibility” existed that it was medical waste, improperly disposed of by an unknown person in an unknown location.

Warren detectives had said their case from December would be investigated as a homicide, and Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said Sept. 26 the department would work closely with its counterparts in Sterling Heights.

Green said Warren investigators consulted with a pathologist at the University of Michigan who found that the fragments did not appear to be surgically cauterized.

“Obviously, someone is disposing of human flesh in the sewer system,” Green said. “It’s obvious that they’re alike and similar and are related. Hopefully, we’ll get some kind of conclusion.”

Anyone with information about the remains can reach the Warren Police Department at (586) 574-4700.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.