11/13/2013 - 9:14 AM
4002 Kipp St. (Pellitteri Waste System)
From the conveyer belt, recycling crew members were busy this morning pulling trash away from that which was to be salvaged. It was a day like many others, fairly routine at the Pellitteri Waste System plant, 4002 Kipp St. It would not end that way. No, this was a day that will be remembered, by those who were there, likely for quite some time. For there - among the bottles, cans, and paper - workers spotted something very gruesome. Shocked, they gathered it and took it to the office.
Quickly, the MPD and Dane County Medical Examiner's office were in the midst of full blown mobilization. A cadaver dog was being sought, and veteran detectives were checking for who might be missing. Right now, all they had was one key piece of evidence.
When the call came into dispatch, the MPD was told, grabbed from the conveyer belt, was a severed "human hand." As investigators rolled up, they had major questions to tackle in the early phases of what could end up being a very long and difficult homicide investigation: To whom did the hand belong? Where was the rest of the body?
They learned this part had come in from routes south and west of Madison: perhaps Belleville, maybe as far away as Platteville. Nobody new, but wherever it originated, it had been commingled with a mountain of other tossed materials. A veteran detective eyeballed the task ahead: sifting and winnowing through that massive pile. He decided it prudent to more closely examine the "hand."
He counted six fingers, and where there should have been a thumb, there was none. The Pellitteri people started doing some Google checking; examining photographs. New theories were being bandied about, and it was a forensic anthropologist who made the conclusive ruling.
This was not a severed human hand. Whatever it was, it had come from an animal, and most were now in agreement: it was likely a bear. How a paw ended up in someone's recyclables could be perplexing, maybe even vexing. But it was no longer a question for the MPD investigative team. They were on to the next call. Wrapping up the case, one supervising sergeant said: "When it doubt, count the fingers, or in this case, the claws."