This article caught my attention when it mentioned ice-covered islands in Russia:
TWENTY-SEVEN pairs of severed human hands have been found mysteriously washed up on an ice-covered island in Russia.
The shocking discovery was made close to the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East of Siberia, close to the border with China.
Sakhalin? Alas, no:
All but one of the 54 hands were in a bag.
Another – spotted first by a local – was lying separately on a snow-covered island in the Amur River around 18 miles downstream from the Russian frontier with China.
The sinister finds were laid out in the snow for a police picture.
I’ve probably been close to that spot – well, closer than any of my readers, anyway – on one of my frequent visits to the city of Khabarovsk. Here’s a not-very-good photo I took of the Amur river at Khabarovsk:
Yes, it was as cold as it looks. Sakhalin was not actually that cold, at least in the south. Most days it would only be around minus ten or fifteen, much warmer than mainland Russia. The north of the island was much colder though, and the winds much stronger. But Khabarovsk was absolutely freezing and the wind would cut you in half. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much snow around whereas south Sakhalin – like northern Japan – enjoyed metres of soft, powdery snow of the sort which covered cars but made skiers and snowboarders happy. And, to my knowledge, we didn’t have sacks of hands lying around on islands.
The Siberian Times said it was a “mystery over who the sinister hands belonged to, when they were chopped off – and why”.
Fingerprints were found on one hand, and the others are being checked.
One gruesome theory is that the hands could have been axed off as a punishment for theft.
Another is that the hands were severed from dead bodies in a hospital – but it is unclear why this would happen.
One fear is that the corpses were illegally used for stealing body parts and the hands were cut to prevent them being identified afterwards through fingerprints.
Local media reported that next to the remains were found medical bandages and hospital-style plastic shoe covers.
Who, other than Victor Frankenstein, would steal body parts from a corpse? What do you reckon the going rate is for a second-hand Russian liver? My best guess is someone was paid to dispose of corpses from a hospital and cut a corner by burying them in the tundra somewhere, or maybe just weighing them down and chucking them in the river to be pulled out by Chinese fishermen and served for dinner along with the more traditional toad, rat, and cockroach. To cover their tracks in case the bodies were discovered, they removed the hands and dumped them in another place.
Police have refused to comment on the case.
I bet they did. Rumour has it that when the Sakhalin police discovered body parts on the construction site of the LNG trains at Prigorodnoye – an arm here, a leg over there, head a bit further over, etc. from what was most likely one of the many victims of the mafia wars in the ’90s – they ruled it as a suicide. As one of the police chiefs said in The Wire: “I don’t want a dozen mouldering John Does added to my case list”.
Russia is not the only place where mysterious body parts turn up unexpectedly. One of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever read on the internet concerned the Salish Sea human foot discoveries in Canada:
ANOTHER severed foot inside a trainer has mysteriously washed up along the coast of the Salish Sea between Canada and the US.
The latest grisly find is the 18th since 2007 and was made by a man walking his dog in British Columbia on December 8, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The first severed foot was found on August 20, 2007. It was a right foot, size 12, encased in a shoe made in India. Authorities were able to link the foot to a male who suffered from depression, concluding he most likely committed suicide in or near water.
Of the 18 feet and shoes found, only two have been matched together.
The Coroners Service has been able to identify eight feet that have washed up locally, linking them to six people. They do not believe any of the cases involved foul play. More likely the victims died from accidents or suicide.
That hasn’t stopped people’s imaginations running wild with grim theories about serial killers chopping up bodies.
Wikipedia has a good entry on the Salish Sea feet discoveries, if you want to know more. Alas, they don’t yet have one on the Khabarovsk hands.