US tourist sends human body parts from Thailand

Lt Gen Ruangsak Jarit-ake said the parts were in plastic boxes. Picture: Reuters
Lt Gen Ruangsak Jarit-ake said the parts were in plastic boxes. Picture: Reuters
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A PARCEL delivery company in Bangkok put three packages bound for the United States through a routine X-ray and made a startling discovery: preserved human parts, including an infant’s head, a baby’s foot and an adult heart.

The body parts were stolen from the medical museum of one of Bangkok’s biggest hospitals, its administrators said yesterday.

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,” Col Chumpol said, adding the man was questioned along with American friend, Daniel Tanner, for several hours and released without charge.

It is thought that Mr McPherson and Mr Tanner travelled from Thailand to neighbouring Cambodia on Sunday.

The three packages, which contained a total of five body pieces, were labelled as toys, police said.

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They were being sent to Las Vegas, including one parcel that the man had addressed to himself. Police said they were contacting the FBI to get information about the would-be recipients of the items.

Clinical professor Udom Kachintorn, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, said that the five human body parts were stolen from the hospital’s museum. Two of them belonged to the department of anatomy and the other three to the department of forensic medicine.

He said the two Americans visited the museum last Thursday but that closed circuit television video did not show them taking any items away.

Police Col Chumpol had initially said a baby’s heart and intestines were among the body parts. But police yesterday said the heart, which had been stabbed, was from an adult and there were no preserved intestines.

Police Lt Gen Ruangsak Jarit-ake displayed graphic pictures of the body parts and said that they had been preserved separately in formaldehyde inside sealed acrylic or plastic boxes. Two of the parts were pieces of tattooed adult skin – one with a jumping tiger and the other bearing an ancient Asian script. One of the pictures showed the baby’s foot had been sliced into three sections.

“DHL has a policy of prohibited items, which include human body parts. To the best of our knowledge, we have never experienced a similar case before,” said Chananyarak Phetcharat, DHL Express Thailand-Indochina’s managing director.

According to DHL, the parcels were declared as “Puzzle-unlimited collectors ED”, “Steamer Cap” and “Antique Train Collector E.”

In some Thai cults, preserved foetuses or spiritual tattoos are believed to give the owners good fortune or protection from evil. They can also be used to practise black magic.

In 2012, a British citizen was arrested with six roasted foetuses covered in gold leaf after a tip-off that infant bodies were being sold through a website offering a black magic service.

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