Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hey, Come Hea, Give Me A Hand, Willya?

Body part a hand-me-down, police told
A decades-old severed hand had been passed from father to son to her, a woman says.
The Associated Press
July 14, 2007

WALDOBORO — Contractors working on an old house
found a human hand that police later confirmed was severed 50
to 80 years ago, but it's still unclear whose hand it was and why
it was there.

Painters working for Bo Jespersen, who renovates and sells old
homes, discovered what appeared to be a man's hand in June.

"They called me and said they'd been losing sleep over
something they'd found," Jespersen said. When he saw the hand,
Jespersen was struck by its size, with fingers about an inch and
a half longer than his own.

"It's huge," he said. "And he didn't cut his nails."

The wrist portion appeared jagged, Jespersen said, as if the
hand had been removed violently, and 6 to 8 inches of what
appeared to be tendons were looped around it.

The mysterious body part was discovered by Derek Levasseur of
Clinton while he was painting what's known as the Depot Road
house, which was built in 1910. During a break, Levasseur was
in the garage looking at a small wood-burning stove, which
Jespersen had agreed he could have.

On top of the stove was a box, which Levasseur opened. At first
glance at the hand, Levasseur and his brother concluded it was
not real. It had a look of dried rawhide.

"We thought it was a prop," he said. "I touched the fingers on it,
and I thought, 'It can't be real.' "

Levasseur photographed the hand with his cell phone camera
and e-mailed the image to his wife, who works in Waterville at
the district attorney's office. While she was looking at it on her
computer, a retired Maine state trooper saw the image and said
he thought it was a real hand.

Levasseur called Jespersen, who contacted the woman who had
owned the house. He also called the state police, who came to
the house, tested ashes in the stove and interviewed the former

Police concluded that the hand had been ripped off 50 to 80
years ago. They also seized the hand because it's illegal to
possess such a body part.

The previous owner claimed she had gotten the hand from a
man down the road, who is now in his 80s and remembers his
father having the hand.

"She had heard it was from a farming accident," Jespersen said.

Copyright © 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers
Blethen Maine Newspapers

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